Welcome to Modern Educator

Here on this blog I hope to get a conversation going amongst students, teachers, administrators, and parents about who, what, when, why, and where we should teach technology skills for the 21st century. I am technology teacher at Truckee High School in Truckee, CA and currently teach classes like digital media, e-learning, applications, and keyboarding -- yes...still important! :) Please Join the Conversation!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Programing Class - Time to teach Apps?

Happy Halloween Weekend!
Apple's iPhone and Google's Android smart phones have changed the way much of the world accesses the Internet.  Watching the show "Inside the Mind of Google" on CNBC (you can find it on YouTube) they explained how Google is involved in someway with over 60% of all Internet activity.  However, Apple controls over 60% of all Internet access on mobile devices due to their iPhone and all their apps.  That is why Google is putting so much energy and resources into the development of their new android mobile operating system for mobile phones.  Their execs in the show explain that more and more people everyday are moving to mobile devices for their Internet needs and they know because of this that if they are going to continue their dominance online that they are going to have to compete in this arena.

This evolution has me exploring how I could learn to teach an mobile app programming class.  My students have been very enthusiastic in response to polling I have done about this topic.  It is crazy how fast the technologies continue to change and that is the problem.....trying to keep up with it all.  Unfortunately, all of the professional development my district provides me is directed to collaboration with my peers on current curriculum, testing, and best teaching practices.  Guess what...surprise, none of my peers know how to teach app programming.  So, I'm going to have to figure out on my own time how to learn this programming language.

Anyone have any ideas where one can learn how to program apps and transfer this to the classroom for our students?

Check out this new App that stores all your gift cards for you on your phone so you can toss or loose all those annoying plastic cards.  KEYRING - http://keyringapp.com/

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Online Collaboration and Sharing - Good or Bad for Education?

Many sites are now available to students and teachers which allow the sharing of information and for collaboration.  However, as with any new technology, it also brings to the forefront other issues, concerns, and questions about whether this is good or bad for student learning.  For instance, should students be able to share/sell notes for classes online like at http://www.noteutopia.com .  There are also sites for teachers to share/sell lesson plans online like http://www.teacherspayteachers.com . Some might say that this will result in a decrease of learning since students might skip out on more classes and just buy the notes online.  However, I think we all knew people who use to do that already when we were in school and just borrowed the notes from a willing classmate.  NoteUtopia and sites like it obviously make it much easier (although costly) since you have such a large database of notes to select from; specific to your school and professor.  There are also similar legal questions around this issue similar to those that arose from music sharing sites like Napster.  People were already sharing CDs before but now they could share with people from across the globe that they did or did not know.  But, with note sharing sites, students are the original creators or authors of the material in question unlike music.  That said, colleges in CA were not OK with this practice and recently got a judge to issue a "cease and desist" order to this company from allowing this kind of note sharing in CA.  It will be an interesting court battle to follow and see what happens.  It seems the colleges claim that the notes are really not the property of the students but rather, the professor whom gave the lecture.  I think that is going to be a difficult argument to support.  Read more:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20017000-93.html?tag=mncol

It seems ironic that we would limit our students abilities to use various tools like web 2.0 sites like NetUtopia when more and more of our school faculties are being trained in Professional Learning Community models; where the sharing and exchange of information is continuous and ongoing.  In a sense, our test or exam is as teachers to help our students succeed academically (I would argue that it is much broader than that but it is the current focus) and we are being encouraged to utilize whatever we can to accomplish this.  So, should we allow or expect anything less from our kids?

So, this brings up the question; do we expect our students to internalize the academic content or do we want them to have the skills, knowledge, and tools to acquire this knowledge?  I think the later is probably a more marketable trait on a resume when seeking employment but educators will have to continue having this conversation to fully understand how it will impact learning in our classrooms across the country.  We all know that certain cultural literacy and academic knowledge is important but it may be silly to focus too much of our time and energy on helping kids remember and learn facts that they could look up on their smart phones in a few seconds.  There is no doubt in my mind that the classroom methodologies of today are going to have to transform to integrate modern technology and the skill sets that go with it.  If we do not, I fear we will be ill equipping our students for the world in which they will be competing in for jobs. 

Check out NoteUtopia!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Less NPR and More Music on the Commute?

My friend and colleague Ed Hilton shared an Interesting blog post with me this morning from Get In the Fracas by Dan Brown about listening to less news in the morning during the commute to work and reverting back to music, like I did during my younger years.  The author said he was finding that too much NPR in the morning was making him slightly depressed.  It was an entertaining article since both Ed and I are kind of.....NPR junkies, you could say. LOL 

Below is a sample song, Sigur Ros - Untitled 8 that I downloaded from his list of recommendations in the post to start off a new play-list for my commute.  I will try it out for a couple weeks and let you know how my mornings start off....more refreshed and charged to go????

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teachers & Students - Do you have a "G-Portfolio"?

Everyday as I peruse through the blogs feed into my Google Reader I come across article after article about technology and its use in the modern classroom.  Numerous subtopics are explored around the importance of technology literacy for both students and teachers and about how we can best develop these skills.  Others discuss more philosophical questions like; will immersing students in more online learning reduce their ability to think deeply and focus intently or, should we expend any of our time and resources on this type of learning since our students, whom are digital natives, already spend so much time online during their own free time after school?

All of these are great discussions but today I had the opportunity to read an interview of Will Richardson, a former teacher-turned tech expert, in Education Week.  His insights into why we MUST be teaching these skills seemed to approach it from a much more practical sense and linked it to the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish in our schools across this country.  He explained (please read the article for a more thorough and articulate summary) that the current path we are headed down; an educational practice focused on academic knowledge with an emphasis on testing to measure success is "just silly" and we need to start focusing on transforming our educational system, not reforming it.

Read the article here!

The part I also found most interesting as a technology teacher who teaches web 2.0 skills and knowledge with a focus on teaching students how to learn versus what; was that our students and us educators need to be "Googleable".  We all need to have a "G-Portfolio" since our classrooms and our students are going to be searched over and over again in the future on Google and other search engines.  That is just the reality of the modern world and our modern classrooms.  Parents, college admissions, and prospective employers are all going to be searching our students in the future.  So I agree with Mr. Richardson, that we need to stop being naive and focusing on what students should not be doing online and refocus our efforts on teaching them how to develop a positive online identity; our "G-Portfolio".  Now, as I have said before, maybe we need to stop blocking so many social networking sites on our campuses across this country and start teaching our students how to use them in a productive, positive, and safe manner.  Doing this, will help them to be ready to compete in the 21st century workplace which is becoming more and more collaborative and connected.  We need our students to know how to learn, solve problems, and work collaboratively in digitally connected world.  They need to be life long learners, just like we are as educators. Do we really think a good standardized test score is going to equip our students for success?  Or, would a high quality and developed "G-Portfolio" be more helpful........ What do you think?

Monday, October 18, 2010

edmodo - Social Networking for Students, Teachers, Schools, & Districts

Thanks to my colleague Heidi, I was introduced to edmodo, a social networking site for students, teachers, schools, and districts that one of her friends is going to work for. Watch the video about this web 2.0 networking site and share your thoughts by commenting below. Do you use it? Do you think it would be helpful? I'm intrigued and think I will sign up to check it out and will share out more once I have researched the site further. One think is for sure....it has more potential for me personally because it is not blocked by my districts sonic wall.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Clean Water - A Modern Day Human Rights Issue!

Today is Blog Action Day 2010 powered by www.change.org where bloggers around the world are taking action today, Friday October 15th, by blogging about the same issue; the lack of clean water and proper sanitation for so many people around the world. 

Did you know that unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war?  Well, there are many things we all can do to help others have access to clean water, something so many of us take for granted each day.  Please take action and find out what you can do to help below.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

School Spirit - Neither Old Fashioned or Modern

It is really cool how social media can be used to get positive messages out to the community about what is going on at our schools.  Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow schools to do this without relying on traditional media outlets.

In this current educational world which is more focused on testing data each day it is fun to use video to remember the other things that most of us adults have fond memories of about our time in school - school spirit and community.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Get faster, stronger, and healthier at Truckee High School!

Students in my digital media class have been hard at work producing commercials for various programs here at Truckee High.  The aim is to encourage more participation in these classes and inform students, parents, and prospective new students about what our school has to offer.

Go Wolverines!  I think this program has something to do with our football team's total dominance.

Did you THINK before you posted?

Are your Facebook, Tweets, or FourSquare check-ins telling the world...."please rob me"?

SlideShare Quick Tour - Summary of features & capabilities

Thanks to my brother-in-law, Matt, a high school teacher in southern CA who was looking for ways to spice up his powerpoint lesson plans, I was introduced to this new social media site, Slideshare. Check out the slde show. I'm reflecting on how I might be able to use this with staff here at Truckee High School for students who miss class or need another chance to review presentations at home. We can already share presentations on our high school web site but they are not as intuitive as this service and Slideshare lets you spread the word easily through your social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

Thanks Matt!

After sharing Slideshare a colleague of mine, Scott, recommended his favorite presentation software that is free to students and educators.  Check out their presentation below about why they say we need to move "beyond slides".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Online or Print?

One of my favorite magazines is Powder (http://www.powder.com/ ) and I have been enjoying perusing through its pages by the warm fire on my couch each winter for many years now.  I find the pictures inspiring and the articles informative and both are enlightening to the world of skiing but, more importantly(at least to me) the search for that elusive, light, white, and deep powder that keeps so many of us skiers in anticipation each ski season.

But, I must say, now that I have transformed my access to the online world with a reliable home wireless system and an Apple iPad, I may find myself ditching my printed Powder Mag for their online site since I can now cuddle up on the couch with the Internet in my hands.  Here, with my iPad, I can still surf through all those great pictures and articles but I also will be able to be indulged with captivating and almost surreal videos and live TV (SALOMON FREESKI TV) along with all the great photos and articles. 

I think the even more alluring aspect of this new form of journalism is the fact that while doing it online, we become part of a community that enjoys the same topics and great journalism through our ability to share what we just watched, admired, or read with others on our social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and our own blogs, like this.  So, it will be interesting to see this winter if my issues of Powder begin to start collecting dust in our magazine basket down by the side of the couch or will I find myself longing for that paper copy in my hand that I can flip through page by page while sipping on a beverage.  One obvious benefit of the old fashioned magazine is that it is not so serious if you spill your drink after becoming too excited from what you are reading or watching.

Enjoy these videos from powder.com about a Skiers Journey.  Watching them made me want to read all about these amazing locations.  Another reason to read Powder online .... might end up reading more!


Kashmir - A Skier's Journey: Ep1 from Jordan Manley Photography on Vimeo.



Freshfield Icefield: A Skier's Journey Ep3 from Jordan Manley Photography on Vimeo.