What Happens When We Forget The Mind Shift

What Happens When We Forget The Mind Shift

I read an article today titled: Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops. It only took me two seconds to figure out what the issue was here….I’ll give you a clue….it’s not the laptops. There are some interesting quotes and lines in this article that caught my attention. Now I don’t know this school district, I give them an A+ for trying something at least. It sounds like they got caught in the netbook era of computing and just couldn’t get out. What follows are some of my thoughts around what went wrong here. “We had the money to buy them, but maybe not the best implementation,” said Mark Toback, the current superintendent of Hoboken School District. “It became unsustainable.” Problem #1: The funding cycle Changing the mind set of thinking that technology is a one off capital expenditure rather than an operational cost. Technology, much like textbooks, paper, crayons, etc. need to be updated. This is issue #1 with our current system. Here the school was given stimulus money from the government…that I’m guessing…as usually….needed to be spent ASAP and on hardware. So it’s great we have this now…but thinking long term…thinking past year 2 or 3 needs to be a focus when starting a program. None of the school administrators who initiated Hoboken’s one-to-one laptop program still work there. Toback agreed to share Hoboken’s experiences so that other schools can learn from it. Personally I believe this is a solvable problem: Hire administrators who understand the changing nature of schools when every student is connected. Yes…you are going to have administrative turn-over. But hiring leaders who understand what giving a laptop to every student really means is on the School Board, the Superintendent and leadership. There are good administrators out there that get these changes….hire them….and then allow them to hire teachers who “get it”. This year alone, schools are projected to spend almost $10 billion on education technology, a $240-million increase from 2013, according to the Center for Digital Education. Problem #2: The Need to invest in PD Really this is the issue of this entire program and the entire way the system is structured and goes back to a post I wrote (along with others) about professional development. The National Staff Development Council still recommends 25% of funds for any new project be earmarked for PD. Why…because that’s what it takes! Meaning...

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1000 Blog Posts

1000 Blog Posts

So…this is blog post 1000. Crazy to think and yet at the same time I’m pretty late to the game for someone who started blogging in September of 2005. A quick look of others who I know started blogs around that same time. Dean Shareski is at 2800+ blog posts and Clarence Fisher is 3100 and counting. Both making this 1000th blog post look like nothing! I still remember setting up this blog in my computer lab in Shanghai. I downloaded WordPress and followed the directions to install it on the little server I was running at the time. I remember coming to the page that asked to name the blog and not knowing what to call it. It’s not something you think about usually until you are faced with it. So I looked around the room and there in the corner was “The Thinking Stick” a wooden bat my friend had given me and that I used when teaching. Mr. U was always known for walking around the room with “The Thinking Stick” when we were doing some really deep thinking. So that’s how this blog got its name. If I knew that day that my professional life would forever be changed would I name it something else? Absolutely! But you don’t know…..you don’t know if anyone is going to read your blog. Even now some 9 years later I don’t know if anyone reads this. The difference is I blog for me now, for my thoughts, for my own reflection and allow myself to think through things and to share my own learning with anyone that happens upon it. So 1000 blog posts and probably the turning point for me was this blog post here. I still go back and read it every once and awhile just to remind myself of sitting on the couch and writing that one….a moment for sure. Not that I have this out of the way…..I can go back to blogging about stuff that actually...

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Solar Freakin’ Roadways – The Challenge

Solar Freakin’ Roadways – The Challenge

So by now hopefully you have seen the video about Solar Roadways. If not take a couple minutes to watch it below…. amazingly awesome. So here’s the thing…I’m all for this…this excites me….this is the future. In fact I have already donated to the cause via their Indiegogo page. But it’s going to be an uphill battle because this is different. You have to think different, you have to plan different…you can’t just go out and continue building roads the same old way. You need to rethink everything……everything! It reminds me of schools who decide to go 1:1. Buying the computer is the easy part…that just takes money. Much like this project raising the money was the easy part. The hard part is changing the mindset. What should a road be? What should a classroom look like? How does this change the way we manufacture roads? How does this change the way we lesson plan? How does this change what we expect our roads to do? How does this change what we expect our students to produce? I could go on and on of course but I think you get the point. You can’t just drop laptops into schools/classroom and expect things to change on their own. You have to think different…you have to expect something different. You have to think way out of the box on this one. It’s a #moonshot for sure. So is thinking different in the classroom. Once you give every student a connected device….you need to think different….you need to start over. I have recently been to a couple of new schools in the process of being built both here in the States and overseas. People are so proud of their beautiful new school buildings where 1:1 is either already in the plan or will be shortly. So we’re giving students a new set of tools to learn with yet building the same structures to learn within. Why is that? In 2014 why are we building schools that on the outside look very modern, a lot of glass, beautiful architecture, yet in the classrooms we get 4 white walls, desks that don’t have wheels, chairs that don’t have wheels and pretty much a stagnate learning space. In all the schools I have visited in the past couple of year the International School of Turin in Turin, Italy always comes to my mind first when I think...

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In 2014…..

In 2014…..

I’m frustrated….it’s 2014 people! We’re 14 years into this century and the Internet turned 25 years old today. It’s here…it’s part of our culture…part of our daily lives…it’s time we stop fighting it and embrace it! In 2014….. School wide wifi that works should be a given…if school wifi was as fast and reliable as Starbucks…we wouldn’t need Starbucks! Every school should open up that fast and reliable Internet to the public after 5pm every day and all day on weekends.  Youtube, facebook, and the rest of web should be unblocked at schools. They have 4G phones in their pockets you’re not blocking anything anyway! Every teacher should have a laptop If a school does not provide a device students should be allowed to bring their own Teachers should be held to the NETs for Teacher standards Administrators should be held to the NETs for Administrator standards Wikipedia should be considered a valid source and we should teach students how to use it Cyberbullying/Digital Citizenship should be part of the main curriculum not an add-on curriculum Coding should be offered as a Modern Language Class Every student should have a place to publicly share their knowledge, creations, ideas Teacher evaluation should include the use of their PLN Every teacher should be required to have a Skype/Hangout account to access professionals in the field School libraries should cut their non-fiction book budget and put that money into creating an inviting place to do research (see Starbucks), have devices to read on and check out for students and community.  Help me out by adding yours to the comments! In 2014……....

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We Need More Engineers

We Need More Engineers

CEO of Intel Brian Krzanich took to the Internet last week to encourage engineering students to stick with their programs and to shed some light on the fact that America and American companies are desperate for engineers. Not just in the tech sector but in other sectors as well. On my recent trip back from visiting ISG in Saudi Arabia, I sat next to an Agricultural Engineer on his way back to Seattle. He had been out for 3 weeks traveling Europe, India, and 3 countries in Africa. As he talked about his traveling adventures I couldn’t believe how much he was traveling…so I had to ask him why the company didn’t hire others. His answer: “There aren’t any Agricultural Engineers to be had.” That’s worrisome really…..we all need food and as our population grows we’re only going to need more. Here is someone who has dedicated his life to helping the global community produce more food for our growing population and the company can’t find anyone trained to help him out or replace him when the time comes…he’s hoping to retire in 5 years. Forbes predicts that there were 1.7 million Cloud-Based Technology jobs that went unfilled globally in 2012 and the outlook and predictions moving forward aren’t any better. So this isn’t just an American problem….it’s a global one. At a K-12 level what are we doing to prepare students for these jobs? We can’t force students to be engineers but are we giving them the experiences they need in K-12 to even be in a place to think about engineering as a career? Kalyani Mallela, 29, said engineering is a foundation applicable to all industries and fields, enabling people to do anything from build chips and wearable tech devices to fix flood problems and innovate medicine. “It’s the ‘why’ and the ‘curiosity’ that make me a good engineer,” she said. (Fox Business) Are we teaching the ‘why’ and tapping into and fostering the intrinsic ‘curiosity’ in students? Programs such as DiscoverE’s Future City competition, which asks U.S. middle-school students to imagine, design and build cities of the future, have become crucial to these efforts. “There’s a whole bunch of kids that have creative ideas but might struggle initially with math and get left behind,” Shaddock said. “We need to do more of stimulating kids’ interests in how things work, how to solve problems in the world around them and build on that stimulus and curiosity.” I think of...

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