Archive for September, 2010

Why Google Sites Works For Our Schools?

September 25, 2010 5 comments

It is obvious Google Sites will never be a Dreamweaver design platform. It is also obvious Google Sites will never be robust as a wikispaces or pbworks.  What Google Sites does provide is a practical and simple communication platform to disseminate information quickly, either as an internal site or external site within our Google Apps for Education domain. Giving our teachers and staff choices to build sites either as private and public websites allows flexibility in how they decide to roll out information. We have adopted a model where the teachers create classroom web pages as public external sites, while also building internal school sites that share resources and information across the seven academies. The other advantages to the Google Site system is the ability to embed all our shared internal calendars and lesson plans shared on Google Docs. While any software program requires professional development to maximize use, Google Sites is a program that requires less than half a day of training. You can quickly deploy Google Sites to provide a central repository for all your school’s information, public or private. We now have internal Google Sites managed by various staff and teachers providing information from Human Resources to our parent/community collaborative website. While we will never reach CSS status on Google Sites, we will however get content out across our seven academies and community in a timely and effective manner. Did I also say I don’t manage any web servers and pay for all of this…

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Dearest Oprah

September 23, 2010 1 comment

Guest Blog Entry: Theresa Nunez is a superstar teacher that I worked with a few years ago. I wanted to share her thoughtful post in response to Oprah’s show this past week.

Teaching has become a blame game.  I am a very passionate teacher in a Title I school (low income) in California.  There is one unanimous fact about our school – great teachers.  Our test scores may not rank at the very top of the API rankings but often times Title I teachers cannot be all about the test scores.  WE have to teach to the CHILD. Sometimes I’ve had to teach children how to believe in themselves.  Sometimes I’ve had to teach children that respect is earned. Sometimes I’ve had to teach a child how to speak English. (I’m a 6th grade teacher) Sometimes I’ve had to teach children how to have a soul.  This will never translate to a test score.  Nor, do I ever want it to.  I know the lessons taught within the four walls in my class may not hit children until they are older. I focus on test scores and know how important that they are but it should not be a determining factor in saying a school is “failing our children.”  I’ve been saying this for years, I challenge anyone to come to our schools, sit in our classrooms, and explain exactly how we are failing these children.  We believe in them, but why don’t you believe in us?

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September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I originally started blogging on February 26th, 2003 using blogspot. It was primarily a personal blog focusing on my daily thoughts, adventures, and musings. It turned out to be a journal of my rantings for a good 3-4 years. I steadily decreased entries and wrote my final entry on that blog on June 25th, 2008.

Socratech Seminars was born on the concept of my professional career. It became a professional journal where I write about my encounters working in education and technology. Although my original blog provided the foundations for my beliefs and principals, Socratech Seminars clearly demonstrates my professional growth over the years. Below are my top 10 blog posts in celebration of my 100th entry of Socratech Seminars.

“New” Schools

September 17, 2010 1 comment

There are many “new” schools opening up all over the world offering different, alternative, out-of-the-box and innovative approaches toward the education model. I wanted to keep a list of schools that I want to evaluate and research even further. I have heard of these schools in various contexts and open to add more to this list.

  • TEP Charter School – Paying teachers a salary of $125,000 and a bonus structure up to $25,000.
  • Harlem Children’s Zone – Tackling education on all fronts of the community.
  • Rocketship – Offering a hybrid school model where students meet with teachers on block schedules and then have learning lab time with an adaptive learning management system. Lowers cost of operation model.
  • School of One – Uses learning algorithm technology to provide customized curriculum for each student.
  • MATCH Charter – Established a MATCH Corps program where new teachers go through a residency on their first year of service.
  • New Tech Networks – Getting lots of press with the 21st century learning model of collaborative, project-based, and technology-based curriculum.
  • Generation Schools – Urban education offering small class sizes, lesser teacher workloads and more professional development. Teachers have staggered-vacations which gives students a 200-day school year.
  • Kunskapsskolan – School in Sweden well known for its personalized approach to education.

Information Technology Specialist

September 14, 2010 1 comment

We are hiring an Information Technology Specialist for our public charter school system. Use the EdJoin process to apply for the position. Email applications will not be be considered. Thank you.

Position: Information Technology Specialist

We deliver 21st century technology learning opportunities that foster academic excellence leading to global collaboration, digital citizenship, and a love for learning.

–Provide customer service that supports the culture of learning, collaboration, and love.
–Responsible for the tech support system and administration of the technology network.
–Design, maintenance and installation of computer and networking systems.
–Troubleshoot software and hardware and all related components and peripherals.
–Conduct training for end users on the use of computer equipment and present technology strategy to various stake holders in the organization.
–Document and produce data reports on technology usage and support.
–Provide information technology expertise and collaborate with leadership on technology solutions.
–Research and implement best-practices on communication information systems, policies and procedures.

–Knowledge of operating systems: Windows XP, Vista, 7, Linux and Mac OSX.
–Knowledge of networking systems: LAN, WAN, TCP/IP, content filtering, servers, firewalls, wireless, thin clients, desktop virtualization, SSO, DNS, cloud computing, and routing.
–Knowledge of open source software
–Knowledge of data-driven systems a plus: Data Director, LMS, CMS
–Knowledge of edtech tools and 21st century learning a plus: Google Apps, wikis, IWB, videoconferencing, social media, blogs.
–Knowledge of scripting and programming a plus.
–Knowledge of SIS systems a plus: Zangle, PowerSchool, Genesis.
–Knowledge of ERate and school technology plans a plus.
–Bachelors degree in information technology or computer science related fields preferred.
–3-5 years industry experience with technical certifications preferred.

Demonstrated Skills/Abilities:
Ability to analyze and troubleshoot computer and networking systems and related equipment; ability to keep inventory; ability to perform skilled work according to plans, specifications and instruction; ability to establish and maintain effective personal working relationships; ability to lift and/or move related equipment; ability to work independently; innovative and patient; ability to provide effective quality end user service.

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Exploring the Blended Learning Model

September 6, 2010 1 comment

I am currently trying to wrap my head around the blended learning model that is becoming well known in the education reform sector. As school budgets continue to decrease, the blended learning model has offered an innovative way to run operations at a lower cost without sacrificing academic rigor. The concept is based on a framework where students learn from both traditional face-to-face formats, and individualized adaptive technology learning lab environments. With this model, schools build schedules that places students in block where they meet with teachers regularly while also spending portions of their day on a 1:1 computer laboratory environment without a teacher. John Danner, founder of Rocketship is well known for this new hybrid model and he talks about it on EdReformer. My next goal is to explore deeper in how these schools function daily both operationally and academically. I am looking to answer the following questions:

  • What type of technology infrastructure will it take?
  • How much does a customized learning management system cost annually?
  • What academic technologies are being used?
  • How effective are these adaptive data-informed learning management systems?
  • What kind of technical staffing is required? What does the lab staff look like?
  • How do we build trust and rigor in these new learning labs without teachers?
  • What components of web 2.0, collaboration and project-based learning is involved in the learning labs?
  • How do teachers connect the learning labs with the regular classroom?
  • What kind of access do parents and greater community have with the learning lab and LMS?
  • What does professional development look like with hybrid schools?
  • How is digital citizenship taught and how do we maintain academic rigor in online environments?
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