Thursday, June 26, 2008

What will you do different next year?

Over the past week or so, I have had a lot of time to think about how I use technology in my classroom. I am helping to create the Computer and Technology Literacy curriculum that our 7th graders will use in our district, and in so doing, have had to look at what I use in my own classroom.

My findings? I do use more than the average teacher, but I don't do nearly as much as I would like. I think for next year, I am going to try to do even more. How you ask? Just by a little creative thinking.

Here are some of my ideas for next year:
  • I am teaching a tools class - a fundamental skill-building class. I plan on using online time management applications to help them track their projects and such.
  • I also plan to show them how to keep an online portfolio, as well as online storage tools, so that "I saved it at home" is never an excuse.
  • For my French students - we do weekly dialogues, or speaking tests. Instead of having them perform them live, what if they had five minutes in class in which to record it? No notes - just them and a computer? I think that could be powerful - and easier for me to grade, too!
  • For my psych students - I did a wiki with them, but I think a weekly blog entry might be great for them to really think through what we are doing in class - not to mention make sure they are paying attention.
  • Again for psych - what if we did a cell phone poll in class? Totally anonymous, and totally fun!

I'm sure there are more, but that's what I've thought of so far. What about you? Do you have any great plans for next year?

Technorati Tags:

Summer, Education, Technology

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Okay, I'm back....or am I?

So this was a great deal longer than a 'brief' hiatus. I did, indeed, finish my Masters.  I stand now at the end of that educational road, but am wondering where I should go from here.  In terms of my education, I could become certified in educational technology, or go for me PhD. in educational technology.  Or, I could go totally crazy and become certified to teach something different altogether.  

Likewise, I stand in a similar situation regarding my blog.  I want to be innovative - to bring up thoughts and ideas that are different than what others have thought to ponder before.  Perhaps this is just year-end burn-out still talking - maybe I'm full of ideas that I haven't even come up with yet.  Or, perhaps, I am placing too much pressure on myself to be an innovator.  After all, I can be an innovator in my workplace by spouting out some of the different information that others have been touting for the past five years.  It all depends on who your audience is.
Some of my least favorite student projects have been those where it is obvious that the student has just tried too hard to impress me.  Perhaps I am doing the same thing, here.  

At any rate, I am back, and I will be posting.  If you have any topics that are of interest, please let me know.  Also - I am beginning to lay out my consulting schedule for next year.  If you want me to come into your school/district, please email me at sroustan [at] fhps [dot] us.  Happy summer!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tech thoughts will return after this brief hiatus...

Yes, I'm still here.

Yes, my family is healthy and doing well.

I, on the other hand? Am crazy.

I have finished my Masters project, and am nearly half done with tennis season.

I am slowly getting my life back. In the meantime, I apologize for my brief hiatus on podcasting and blogging, but I promise that I will be back. Soon. I swear.

I have a lot to blog about, and I miss the network.

If you have any ideas for future posts, or things you'd like me to write more about, comment here! Thanks for your patience!

Technorati Tags:
Random, Beyond Podcasting, (dis)connectivity

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Are we really quick to accept technology?

UPDATE: My point to this post...which I'm not sure I ever got to...was that Stager was indicating that teachers have a knee-jerk reaction to adopting new technology - that we adopt things without really thinking about the best practice behind it. My point was - really? IMHO, I have found that teachers do have a knee-jerk reaction about technology - of fear. As in, "A Cellphone? In a classroom? But students could cheat and text each other answers and...". I don't know any teacher who uses technology in a classroom setting who has a knee-jerk reaction of "This is cool! I don't know how I'll use it, but let's try!" Am I wrong? What do you think?

=*Live Blogged - Please excuse spelling/grammar errors.*=

I'm sitting in Gary Stager's session on being careful with what new technologies that we let into the classroom. He is bringing up some valid points - just not in a way that I would. He is coming off really negative - not sure if that is intentional or not.

One of the points that he is bringing up is that there is nothing new in education - he is saying that we are still saying the same things today that we were hundreds of years ago. The "Newly Ancient" philosophy - that we should take the old and find a way to make it new -which I totally agree with. He pulled a quote from 1917 that directly related to what we would consider to be best practices.

However, I feel that some of his generalizations are not fair. He mentioned that high school English teachers only make projects because it is too hard to grade 300 English papers. I don't know what it is like at every school in the country, but in our high school, our English teachers to projects and papers. And they spend hours grading them.

He also said that Twitter, while good for quick questions, is not effective as a personal learning network. I strongly disagree with that - as I have bounced many theoretical notions off of my network. In fact, those are some of my favorite conversations with my network.

Also, I checked out his website: and I was disappointed in his review of Friedman's The World is Flat. Friedman makes a great argument for the globalization of the world...and I'm not sure you can argue with him. While the theories have not changed in the last hundred years, the tools have - and the kids have.

I'm agreeing with Stager now, though - he is talking about adding Higher Standards - and that is very true. Just like the type of knowledge is shifting, you must add higher standards or you soon won't be expecting anything from students.

He's now comparing the difference between community and community of practice. You can be a part of a community - like a city - and not know about everything and everyone in it. Likewise, a community of practice, you don't need to know everything and everyone in it. A community of practice must grow. He's saying that the community of ed techers celebrates newbies, but there often isn't anything for those people who are either intermediate/advanced. Very true. "Entry into the community is based on a willingness to mimic the behaviors of the masters." "Common commitment to progress" You must do something together, and have shared stories and histories.

Overall, an interesting session. He started off a bit negative, but I think there was a message of hope there somewhere. Interesting thoughts, though, about technology and education and being careful as to what/how to integrate.

Technorati Tags:
Gary Stager, macul08, Twitter

MACUL part deux

So, obviously my last post was a waste of a good RSS, but it has a point. I was leading a session on Web 2.0 for beginners today...and we posted that as our "first" blog entry.

It was so much fun to do that session today! I really wish that we had even MORE time - next year, that is definately a 4-hr session!

At any rate, if you are a new reader, welcome! If you did a technorati search and got here, welcome! If you need the link to the wiki we worked on, it is here: .

Then, I ran over to Jason Ohler's session on the future of tech in ed. Very interesting stuff - wish I could have hit the whole thing and not have missed the first part!

Too much to process, and I have another presentation this afternoon....

Technorati Tags:
Jason Ohler, macul08, web 2.0

Web 2.0

I'm standing in front of a group at MACUL.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

MACUL 2008

It has been an interesting couple of weeks, to say the least. I will, at the end of this week, have been out of my classroom 5 of the last 10 days. This has made my life insane (but in a good way).

Last week, I was able to take part in a meeting to re-vamp our Middle School Comp. Lit. course (working title now is Computers, Technology & Literacy). What a neat meeting - we made so much progress, and the idea of all students coming out of the MS as literate as these new warms my heart!

Then, I was fortunate enough to present at the MS Summit, sponsored by the MI ASCD. A very fun/thought provoking day! It was an honor to be presenting at such a gathering of people.

Now, on to MACUL 2008, where I am not presenting, per se, but will be helping out in a few SIGTE sessions. I'm hoping to pull together a Twitter Cafe, of sorts. It won't be publicized, but if we tweet it, they will come. I'm hoping to walk away with new ideas, but also just come back refreshed and ready to take on the world. It will be fun to be an absorber of info this time around. I don't get to do that much anymore, so it is special when I get that opportunity!

I may not post reguarly for a bit -and I apologize in advance. I have my 3rd and final chapter due on Monday...and with MACUL, and sub plans...well...we'll see what happens. :) If you have read my last post, and are interested in reading more, let me know and I'll post some more! Although I'm kinda thinking that I'm either putting you to sleep or boring you to death...

I'll post when I can! See some of you at MACUL!

Technorati Tags:
MACUL 2008, ASCD, Summit, SIGTE, Twitter Cafe

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

UNpurposely disconnected and Theoretical Rationale, pt.I

Bless me, readers, for I have sinned: it has been a month since my last posting. Oy. I've been tagged in a Meme that I haven't gotten to yet - but I will, I promise! I could give a number of excuses, but the moral of the story is that I am trying to finish my Masters' project (one more chapter to go - W00T!), and simply have not had a chance to be online much. Well, not for anything "fun" anyway.

I thought I'd share a bit of my work for you - if you are interested. And if you aren't? Umm...tough? Stop reading? No - please don't. Feedback would be nice. :)

Anyway, this is my Theoretical Rationale behind a Read/Write French Curriculum. This is part one of three (or four, depending on how long this is). If you use it, please quote it. It is copyrighted through the University but attributing it to this blog is alright with me.

Please comment on this - and let me know what you think! Here it is:

One cannot deny that in the past century, more change has taken place than in any other. While this change was heavily technological, these changes affected most everything else; from commerce to healthcare to recreation, technology has drastically and forever changed the way the world interacts.

Interestingly enough, the theoretical rationale behind the creation of a technology-embedded French curriculum comes from a journalist, not an educator. Friedman, the author of this interesting work, talks about three eras of what he calls Globalization. The first era, Globalization 1.0, began when Columbus set sail in 1492 and continued through 1800. Friedman writes “…in Globalization 1.0, the key agent of change…was how much brawn – how much muscle, how much horsepower, wind power, or, later, steam power – your country had and how creatively you could deploy it” (Friedman, 2007, p.9 ). Globalization 1.0 united the world in a competitive way that, until 1492, really had not been seen before.

Similarly, Globalization 2.0 also changed the way the world interacted. Globalization 2.0 spanned the years from 1800 through 2000 (not including the years of the Great Depression or the World Wars). Friedman says “[t]his era shrank the world from a size medium to a size small. In Globalization 2.0, the key agent of change…was multinational companies” (Friedman, 2007, p.9). These years, which also included the beginning of the dot-com era where cross-world communication became possible in minutes rather than weeks, began to allow for cross-global collaboration in the workplace.

Work Cited:
Friedman, T (2007). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Picador.

Technorati Tags:
(dis)connectivity, Beyond Podcasting, education, Flat World

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Power of the Network, Part II

Last Tuesday, I asked those who read this blog to comment on my post and tell me where they were from. I also told my Twitter network about the blog post. Before the end of the school day, I had 9 comments from various places. It is now up to 14. Not too shabby for a quick shout-out blog post.

Here is what this tells me. Slightly over a year ago, I decided that I ought to have a blog for my presentations, so that people had a site to go to when they had questions. This blog was created for the people in those sessions - all of whom were in Michigan. Of the 14 comments, how many were from Michigan? Two. How many of those Michiganders had been in my session? Zero. That's not to say that my original readers aren't still around, but it is intriguing to me how the readership of this blog has expanded.

Secondly, it tells me that my personal network of people has substantially grown. Several of the comments mentioned that they followed my blog in a reader, but others mentioned that they found me through Twitter. Very few teachers my age have networks outside of their own schools. It is definitely an advantage for me - and for the other teachers in my school, as I bring back everything that I learn!
Third, it is a humbling reality check. What we post - whether or not we think it has any impact - is being read by someone, somewhere. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. My psychology classes just completed an "online text" on a wiki. At first glance, I was so proud of them! In many ways, I still am, but they don't seem to understand that their audience is a global one. Four groups (that's 8 kids) blatantly plagiarized some/all of their wiki. How can we prove to students that people really are reading what they post - and that it could include the original author of the material? I'm still hashing out how I want to handle this with the next batch of kids - stay tuned for that.

As I begin my Masters project, I am keenly aware that at no other point in time have we ever had such power in our networks. Equally, I am aware of the discrepancy between the learning styles needed for the mass collaboration era versus the industrial revolution-style training that is occuring in our schools. As we are helping our students prepare for their future, are we showing them the "Flat World" that Friedman spoke of - where knowledge is the new global currency? Or does it look more like this:
To all who commented on Part I: Thank you. To all who read this: continue the dialogue.
Image Citations:
twitter_mosaic, "Moulin Rouge Mosaic." Twitter Mosaic. 14 Jan 2008. 25 Jan 2008
Clark, William A.. "The Human Network (part one) - "Gagged." Flickr. 26 Apr 2007. 25 Jan 2008
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Monday, January 21, 2008

You're On Notice!

I thought I'd share this, just because it cracked me up.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bucket List Meme

Oh my - I've never been tagged in a meme before. I feel so special! Now, to steal from Jen:
The Bucket List meme was started by Jeff Pulver and is based on the movie. It seems to have not evolved much and is still essentially a list of things you hope to accomplish in 2008. This is seriously not easy - there is always so much I want to do....but here, in short, is my 2008 Bucket List (in no particular order):

~turn 25....again.
~get through the Strasbourg Exchange...and then do it again for next year.
~attend NECC (probably won't happen, but a girl can dream, right?)
~use online textbooks (that are written by my former students) in all my classes.
~embed technology in all of my classes - every lesson, every day.
~do more presenting, AND more attending (of conferences, that is).
~finish my Masters degree (goal: April 2008).
~move and/or get a mini-van. Or both.
~enjoy my life and stop stressing about things that - in the end - don't really matter.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind right away. And now, to tag people:
Liz, Vicki, and Darren - you're it! :) Happy meme-ing. And Happy New Year!

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, Bucket List, Meme, Random

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Survey 2008

It is time for the Education Blogosphere Survey. Take a minute and do this survey - it really doesn't take very long, and I think that the data that we will obtain from it will speak volumes! Oh, and if you haven't commented on my last post, please do so - new "explanation/results" post coming soon!
Deadline (for the survey)= January 26, 11:00pm, (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

Technorati Tags:

EduBlogosphere, survey, blogs, blogging, education, McLeod

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Power of the Network? part I

This is going to be a strange post, as posts go. I am curious about just how extensive - and global - the power of the network really is. If you read this on a Reader/Aggregator of some nature, please visit my site directly. If you read this post - for whatever reason, please comment and tell me what country you are from (if you are from North America, please give me state/province, too). I know this sounds strange, but it has a point, and I will tell you what that is in my next post.

I know this takes time and effort on your part, dear reader. Thank you in advance for taking a quick second to do this!

Technorati Tags:
Beyond Podcasting, network, blogging

Monday, January 7, 2008

Purposefully Disconnected

First of all, a very happy 2008 to one and all! May this be the year that real, measureable change occurs in our schools - not just with individuals, but across the board. (Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

My apologies for my lack of Twitters, postings, utterz, and so on. It has not been for a lack of things to say, but rather an experiment, if you will.

As many of you know, this is a fairly tough year for me personally. I have a new prep (which I LOVE), I'm finishing my masters this semester (we hope. Incidentally, my project will be called "French I 2.0: Using the Read/Write Web in the Classroom" or something of that nature. I will be creating a total web-based curriculum for my classroom. Stay tuned.), my father has been sick (and is *knock on wood* cancer-free. Thanks for all your support/encouragement), and so on. This has brought a fairly profound change in my way of thinking.

I decided in early December that - no matter what - I would not take work home. Period. Nothing. No lesson plans, no grading, nothing. This meant that, in order to agree to this, I had to remain focused on the "important" stuff at work. I cut out Twitter, I cut out Bloglines, etc. And here's what I found.

Nothing really changed. I still intigrated technology in my classes, I still read articles on new technology, and I maintained a passion for change in our education system. So why be connected, then? What's the point?

With all that I was able to get done, I did not feel like I accomplished as much as I did when I was connected. While I was more relaxed at home - and had more time for my family - I did not feel like I was fully doing my job. I felt like, in a way, that I was letting my network down. I wondered if they would still be there for me - despite my absence.

I conducted another experiment: I asked a fairly in-depth edtech question of my Twitter network. I had many people respond that they were glad to see me back, but no one answered my question. Here's what I realized: you get from the network what you give. I hadn't been around to answer others' questions, so why should they answer mine? That seems a bit harsh, but I think that's true of every relationship - there has to be a give and take.

I had let my network down; I wasn't there for them. So here is my goal for January. I want to remain connected - I want to be there for my network - but I want to leave my work at work as much as humanly possible. This time, I want to be disconnected at home when possible, but remain connected at work.

Stay tuned for a post on how that worked out. It is important for your family and friends that you are purposefully disconnected, but if we are to function in this new, flat world, we must spend at least some of our time purposefully connected, too.

Technorati Tags:
Twitter, Bloglines, Beyond Podcasting, (dis)connectivity