Tuesday, November 02, 2010

2010 Gubernatorial Forum

Last week Prepare Maine.org hosted a Gubernatorial Forum and our Nokomis Warrior Broadcasting students helped provide technical support for event. We had six students located at the high school who moderated a statewide backchannel with over 100 students and teachers from across the state. Two more students manned a tech support help line take calls on a laptop using Google Voice.

At the event in Bangor we had two students involved, one live blogged the event here:

and the other asking the candidates a question.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spreadsheet Magic

I often get asked about Google Spreadsheets so I thought I'd make one with a few of the cooler things they can do built into it. The first step to share is how to give others a copy of your spreadsheet if you don't want to put it in the Template gallery.

First publish the link and copy the address.

Then put that link on your website and change the end of the spreadsheets address, replacing everything after the & with newcopy so,


Click here for a copy of Spreadsheet Magic.

There are more from templates here: http://sites.google.com/site/kernkelley/forms

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I bring kids to conferences...

I bring kids to conferences. It's something I've done for years and when they have an opportunity to have a conversations with educators like Angela Maiers and Vickie Davis at the Maine ACTEM conference I'm reminded of exactly why. The times when we as teachers are engaged in professional development are some of the best times to have the perspective of students around. It's also important for the kids. The most introspective I've ever seen students be about themselves as learners has come when they were away from the school building. I don't think it always has to be that way, but when they watch educators talk passionately about their craft, students start to see their role in this educational dance differently. They're no longer playing the game of school.

Here is a conversation my students had with Angela. The jump cuts you see occur in the interest of length and tact, hopefully none of the value has been lost in the editing.

Two comments that struck me were when the kids talked about "too much tech" I take this to heart. Since most of my interaction with students revolves around technology in some way, I think it's important to make sure technology is never an ends in itself. The other comment was that they thought the best teachers were those who could, "think as a student."

Maine ACTEM Conference 2010

Another great conference from ACTEM this year. With keynote speakers like Vickie Davis and Angela Maiers how can you go wrong. The Maine Google Certified Teachers ran workshops presentations on Google tools at the Pre-Conference. I ran two sessions focused on using Google Apps for Education as an educational platform. The sessions were geared toward administrators, principals, superintendents and tech directors who were ready to implement Google Apps for Ed in their schools.

One thing about the sessions that really encouraged me was how much of the conversation revolved around developing an new educational culture in a school or district rather than just worrying about the technical nuts and bolts of implementation. It's not that those questions didn't come up, but the discussion generally would tie in the difficulties of transitioning from a top down teacher driven education to a student driven one, and how technology can aid and encourage that transformation. If technology is the natural medium for change, we should be able to use it to help guide the educational changes we hope to see for our kids.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting Started.

The 2010 school year has begun for us here in central Maine and like most years I'm often asked, "There's so much new technology stuff out there and it changes so fast, where do I even start?" I thought about it, and decided to respond to the question this way, if I was going to offer this as a course for new educators about how they could get started, this would be the makings of a syllabus.

Mental shift #1

First and foremost we must accept that as soon as this post is published (August 2010) it is out of date. The world of technology in education is moving too fast. There is no simple way to keep up with the pace of change and the first lesson is to be ok with that. If we are truly in a continual state of learning, then this change is welcome. I don't believe that it's really anything new, what's different is the speed and how pervasive the changes technology offers are.

The goal then, is not to read this post and be done, but rather to use it to develop techniques to manage the incoming information streams, build a group of like minded people available to help you and know how to find the rest.

If you're looking for additional rationale one of the first books that encapsulated this change was The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. (Ok, break away here and go read the book or you can download the free audio book. It's 27 hours long, but if you're into Spark Notes watch his 6 minute synopsis here.) Another important realization is how pertinent this is for our students. They will never known a world without this kind of access or easy communication. If the education system is not addressing directly, then students are probably left to figure it out on their own.

Click here and you can see more closely see how quickly the numbers reflect what's happening in social media, just since you've started reading this post.

Also check out this presentation by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod. It's worth noting that this video was published in 2007 and the numbers are updated here (I just prefer this version) and it's also worth reading the story behind the creation here.

Mental Shift #2

Question from the back of the class: "Mr. Kelley, how is the technology integration different from all those other changes in education that happen every few years, good teaching is still good teaching, right?" Fair question and yes, nothing is so trendy as education. Every few years there is new vocabulary or a system in education that's going to change everything. Not sure what to call it? Go to the Educational Jargon Generator. The difference, I believe, is the state of the world and technology has become medium for better education. It has to be:

Ok, back to our checklist,

1) Manage streams of incoming information.
2) Find others to learn from.
3) Learn techniques to find the rest.

1) In discussing incoming information Clay Shirky says it best as, "It's not information overload, it's filter failure." (this from a 20min presentation explaining this statement.) The first tool I suggest teachers start with is a new Google Account. Basically because with one login, you can assess dozens of free services. Now, each of these has an equivalent if you already have accounts elsewhere or don't want to use Google. But, for a single login, Google's it. With this account you can start having different streams of information come to the same place so instead of five places to check, you have one or two. (I go into more detail about his here.)

Choose a login name carefully. As you build your online persona, you will become known as your account name, whether it's your real name or one you made up. You may want to use your real name as I did. Most accounts that I have online use kernkelley as my user name, if however you have a name commonly found or don't feel comfortable using your real name, make up something professional that you'll still like in the future.

Most of us are comfortable in email and have been using it for some time, so with your new Gmail (or Yahoo or Hotmail) it doesn't really matter the brand, the shift is that it's a web-based service, rather than locally on your machine. This means none of it lives on your own computer, and you can login to it from any computer or phone with Internet access.

Mental shift #3

Your digital 'stuff' is not on your computer anymore. This is a huge technological change that has occurred over the last few years. With more and more services being provided over the web it changes what we can do. Think of your bank account, most likely you have a way to access your bank account online. Even if you don't use this service, the account is still there. You can get to it from any computer that has internet access. Does this mean that all the programs on your computer are obsolete? Not yet, there are still some programs that don't work well online yet, (but they're always improving) and there's still the matter of access, but in my opinion both of these problems are being worked on, it's just a matter of time.

2) Who's out there. The good news is there are a lot of people looking for the same information you and and would love to connect and learn with you. Here is a webpage that pulls together about 10 different blogs of educational / technology thinkers. It's not 'the' list, it's just a place to start. Also, there's Lisa Thumann's list of 25 Ed Tech Leaders you may want to check out.
Finally join some of the existing online educational communities like www.classroom20.com, www.edutopia.org or www.learncentral.org These can be a little overwhelming at first because there are so many people and topics, but find something you are interested in and go for it. Once you start recognizing names and see who they recommend and you're ready to build your own list. Login to your Google Account and open Google Reader. Google reader is "a tool for gathering, reading, and sharing all the interesting blogs and websites you read on the web." For more help setting up your reader, watch this:

You can start with this list of 10 educational blogs I recommend or if you're looking for an educational blog about a specific subject or grade level, a another resource is: http://supportblogging.com/Links+to+School+Bloggers. So go ahead and start creating your own blogroll.

Another tool for a different kind of communication is Twitter. Sometime called 'microblogging' it's basically a site for very short messages that you can easily connect with educators from across the spectrum. Going through the process of knowing who to follow and receive their comments can be daunting as well, so a good place to start is an existing list, like this one by Lucy Gray which focuses on educators. As she puts it, "A list intended for people getting started with Twitter. A little bit of everything in this list!" You can check out the messages by those on the list to get an idea of what this community is about.

3) How do I find out the rest of what I'm missing? This is a tough one, because you don't know, what you don't know. The good news is now that you've built a structure for information to come to you and ways to engage with others who are interested in similar topics. The next step is to dive right in! Because technology is in a constant state of change, there's on perfect time to get started except right now. Maybe start with Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind (or the audio synopsis here) or subscribe to a few educational podcasts found at www.edtechtalk.com, check out the K12 Online Conference for ideas and help, or check out my recommendations for further reading.

See you online!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Google Teacher Academy U.K.

Last week I was in London meeting some terrific people at the Google Teacher Academy U.K. It was the first international GTA and I think it went even better than expected. The response was overwhelming and everything that I've read has been very positive.

My biggest take away from the experience is based on a conversation I had with Mark Allen, one of the newly 'minted' GCTs. Specifically it had to do with the network that was being built in the room and it's relation to the knowledge that was being transferred .

Everyone there was learning from everyone else as always seems to happen when a group of Edu-geeks get together and I thought about this in terms of the hours saved by educators not having to start from scratch. It's not that the topics covered were unfamiliar, it's that now, every mistake one of us makes, provides an opportunity for so many others to learn from. In education the scarcest resource isn't money or technology, it's time. And that's what the network provides, little bits of time here and there by learning from other's mistakes so you don't have to repeat them.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who owns student work?

A week ago I was asked to talk with a group of educators in northern California at the Krause Center for Innovation and the program: Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology (MERIT) with Rushton Hurley. The focus of my talk was the ownership of student work and how we can design an assessment system that has students take more control of their work, rather than feeling like it just comes from a teacher.

Link to the entire Elluminate presentation: http://xrl.us/meritkelley

Friday, July 02, 2010

Texas ASCD Conference

I had the privilege of working with some terrific people this week at the ASCD Conference in Dallas Texas. Working with the other November Learning presenters and participants was a ton of fun and I look forward to continuing the conversations online!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Student Led Workshop featuring Google Tools

The summer R.S.U. #19 will be offering a student led workshop focusing on Google Apps June 24-25 from 8:00 to 3:00.

Who this workshop is for:
  • Teachers who want to use free Google Tools to start a class website or calendar.
  • Teachers who want to work toward a paperless class.
  • Principals who want to improve electronic communication with their staff.
  • Directors who are ready to go to Google Apps for an entire school or district.
"The purpose of the day is to leave with the skills, knowledge and examples on
implementing the Google Tools within a classroom, school or district."

Click for registration. For more information please go to: http://www.teachtolearn.org

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thoughts on the iPad in Education

The Apple iPad just came out which I imagine will be followed by a bevy of tablet clones all with their own bells and whistles. My educational interest in these devices pertains to what they can offer our kids differently than what we already have. We have laptops, netbooks and the iPod Touch. What does a larger device with a touch interface allow kids to do that they could not manage otherwise.

Case in point: Below is my two year old son. He's playing a memory game and having a great time doing it. Now, card memory games have been around forever, no big deal. But he would never have the manual dexterity (or patience) to play a 20 card memory game. Yet, he does have the ability, as seen with my iPod Touch (and as much a surprise to me as anyone.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Student Technology Showcase 1/16/10

You are cordially invited to the 7th Bi-Annual Student Technology Showcase. Located in Newport at the Sebasticook Valley Middle School on Saturday, January 16th. This event features the technology projects of fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from throughtout the year.

From 10:00 to 1:30 please tour the school and experiment with many of the technological tools our students use every day. Watch digital animated movies, view galleries of skateboards and hand built artwork, see a computer lab custom built by students, try your hand at anchoring in our News Studio, assemble and program robots, scan through student blogs, wikis and web portfolios, or take a virtual tour of the school.
If you are unable to attend physically, please consider attending virtually. You can use Skype in and get a personal live tour of the events going on during the showcase. The Skype name is studentshowcase and you can sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/ststour

The awards ceremony begins at 1:30 where participants can win prizes of iPod Touches or a MacBook. Please come and see the work of some amazing students! If you have any questions or want more information, please check out the website: www.studentshowcase.org or contact Kern Kelley at kkelley@rsu19.org / 368-4592.

Hope to see you there!

For an additional viewpoint, please check our Cheryl Oakes' blog post from last year's event: