Blogging for CT Leadership Council

I have been neglecting my personal blog because I have been adding posts to the CT Leadership Council Blog. If you would like to see what I’m posting, click on Connecticut and scroll through the posts. David Andrede is another member of the CT Leadership Council whose blog posts are most informative and helpful – along with many other contributers.

Westchester Day of Discovery (as well as what PLN resources help me to grow as an educator)

Also posted on the CT Leadership Council Blog

Today I attended Westchester Day of Discovery in White Plains, NY, and as usual, I came away from the experience energized and even more excited about how technology can add excitement and engagement and skill building for today’s students.You would think after a whole day at the conference, I would have said, “Enough is enough! ” But I still found myself drawn to my laptop to check my email, etc.
I came across an email from Steve Hargadon inviting me to comment on his Might Bell share site dedicated to “Teacher 2.0: Using the Web for Your Personal and Professional Growth.” He asked us to respond to a number of questions on how the internet has impacted our own personal learning, and I crafted the answer below. Because I mention my attendance at the Day of Discovery conference today, November 5, 2011, I thought it was appropriate to repost it here:

Oh, my gosh! I could write a book on this topic, but I’ll have to limit myself.

One of my favorite places to learn was actually inspired by Steve Hargadon – Classroom 2.0 – so ably run by Peggy George, Lorna Costantini, and Kim Caise where every Saturday morning they bring in a special guest to share his/her story and resources. I also have tuned into many of Steve’s Future of Education Webinars as well as webinars from the EdTech channel such as Seedlings and Teachers Teaching Teachers.

I also follow many of the top leaders in educational technology on Twitter. If even a day goes by when I don’t check into twitter, it takes me over an hour to skim through the tweets I’ve missed. Of course, I can’t click on every link, but almost every resource offered in these tweets have provided great professional development.

In addition, I read many blogs, including featured blogs from my Tech&Learning newsletter.

I also get good updates from eSchool News.

Next, I’m proud to be a Star Discovery Educator and rely on their site and the DEN (Discovery Educator Network) for an endless supply of great learning opportunities. In fact, I just attended the Westchester Day of Discovery face-to-face conference in White Plains, NY. I got to hear a keynote by Hall Davidson and also attended his two sessions on video in the classroom and on iPad apps and devices. He even showed us how we could attach an inexpensive microscope to the camera on the iPad, thus transforming it. Very Cool!  Then I got some great training from Cindy Lane on using Google Earth in the classroom. Finally, Max Brooks offered great tips for using DE classroom tools to individualize learning for our students.

I don’t have any one blog that I follow consistently, but those by David Andrade, a physics teacher from Bridgeport, CT, who blogs at http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/ , offers detailed explanations of his personal experience with many great resources. David is also a DEN star and a member of the Connecticut LC.

Of course, Richard Byrne’s, http://www.freetech4teachers.com/, is also a great site.

I have to admit that I spend WAY too much time on the internet reading, researching, contributing -and sometimes, I really just need to log off and go take a walk or bake some healthy muffins or read a book or watch a tv show with my hubby. But doing what I do is my passion, and even when I retire from my school system this coming June, I doubt I’ll be able to leave it behind.

Oh, and finally, how could I forget?????? I love getting a chance to watch TED talk channel -I hope I’ll be able to watch many more presentations when I have more time.

Oh, and then there’s PBS – and the Discovery Channel – and the History Channel –enough! I’m done! (Smiles!)

A Veritable Treasure Trove of Famous Children’s Stories Available from DE

Just this past summer I became aware that Discovery Education offered subscribers access to the whole collection of the wonderful Weston Woods retelling of famous children’s stories and picture books. The studio, located in Weston, CT, I believe, uses narration, music, and animation to bring important children’s books to life through multimedia. Even though the age recommendation for most of the books is for pre-K through 6th grade, I believe that adolescents and adults, as well, will find great enjoyment in these presentations. They will also learn a lot. Several of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales such as The Nightingale, The Little Match Girl, and selections from his epic poem Hiawatha, to name only a few, are beautifully told. Educational and entertaining are the titles by Jean Fritz such as Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?, What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?, and And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
I was also delighted to find the Rudyard Kipling’ classic tale, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, in the collection. Unfortunately, the 7th grade English classes had already read the tale before I found the link to it in Discovery. One of two of the students, on my recommendation, did log into DE  at home to view the video,  and I was so pleased when they told me that they had enjoyed hearing the story, again.
I just watched The Man Who Walked Between the Towers – a retelling of an actual event that happened in 1974 when a young man from France, who was a street performer in NYC, actually spent over an hour on a cable suspended between the two towers that so sadly no longer exist. The story is by Mordicai Gerstein. It was a riveting tale.

I encourage all of you to search on Weston Woods, refine the search to full-length videos, and browse your way through the 168 offerings and then share your favorites.
Many of these videos did not come up in the student search, but if you assign the video to your student/students, then it will be available in their student center.
Coming soon – I’m so excited – Most (maybe all) of the Reading Rainbow episodes with LeVar Burton are also available!
Carolyn Stanley
proud to be a Discovery Star and member of the CT LC.

Updating my iPad2

One of the teachers at our middle school sent out a reminder to teachers to connect their iPads to their iTunes accounts on their computer to make sure everything was up to date. I have to admit that I hadn’t plugged in for a couple of weeks, so I decided that last night was the time to take care of that. I had heard that IOS5  would soon be available, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that would entail. Before I even got started, I was prompted to update my version of iTunes, so I did that and restarted the computer and all before plugging in my iPad. The first thing I did when I plugged in was back up my iPad before agreeing to install the new OS. I didn’t want to get that scarey warning about how the new software might wipe out anything I had installed since my last backup. After that was completed,  I crossed my fingers and clicked, “o.k.” to install the new OS. Everthing went smoothly, but the download and  install took a very long time. I actually went to bed around 10:30 pm because  the message telling me it was reinstalling my apps seemed to last forever.  I woke up around 11:30 pm and made my way, bleary eyed, into the room where the magic was taking place. Sure enough, the icon for my iPad was there in my iTunes menu which meant everything had installed properly. I clicked to disconnect and unplugged my iPad, but I wasn’t done yet. I then had to go through another whole process of accepting the terms of the new software, deciding whether or not to use iCloud (which I really don’t fully understand), and some other things I don’t even remember. And my iPad was back and functioning. I haven’t really had time to research the new options available, but after reading the comments on Gary’s post, I’m relieved the update went smoothly. Be forewarned, make sure you have lots of time available when you go for this update. Happy computing.

Finally, the School Year 2011~2012 is Off and Running

I cannot believe we’ve only been in school for three days. Due to Hurricane Irene, we didn’t greet our students until Tuesday, September 6. Of course, when I was growing up in Maine, I never remember starting school before Labor Day. Regardless, we had been scheduled to start on Monday, August 29 with a teachers’ only day – and then the kids were to come in on Tuesday, August 30. Fortunately, at my house, we did not suffer any serious effects from the storm except for a little water in the basement and a few downed branches. So, Monday through Thursday were like a reprieve, and I enjoyed every minute of the beautiful weather. The pressure I’d felt all summer about doing the Classroom 2.0 Featured Teacher spot was off, and I really had time to relax and recoup. I started playing around with a Posterous Blog – and I’m really liking how easy and spontaneous it is to post to it from my iPhone, iPad2, or my laptop. You can take a look here:
http://carolteach4.posterous.com/
My middle school in Bethany didn’t get power back until Thursday afternoon -so we had our teachers’ only day on Friday, Sept. 2. Our opening on the day after Labor Day went well, but I was swamped with tracking down a large number of students who had not had their signed acceptable use policies logged in at our district technology office and hence, did not have activated folders. In other years, it hasn’t been much of an issue, but this year we’ve ramped up technology use so much at our school that the teams wanted the kids to have access right away – in fact, we got one of the teams logged on today so they could take a learning interest survey. Fortunately, after working long hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, most students had their forms in and folders activated, so the event was a success. There are a few stragglers, but they should have their forms in tomorrow. That is important because we need to get our new 7th graders uploaded to the Discovery Education database so they can start to access all the wonderful resources at home.
I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but we’ve only been in school for three days, and it feels as if we’ve been back 2 months. So, if we are not as far along with the kids as we’d like to be, we must relax a bit and stop beating ourselves up. It’s only 3 days, and there are 179 days of learning adventures left.

Featured Teacher Me – Really!

cross posted from http://evolvingclassroombethany.blogspot.com

In the webinar I praised Discovery Education Resources and talked about how we added all of our students to the DE database.

On Saturday, August 27, 2011, I was honored to be the featured teacher guest on the weekly Classroom 2.0 webinar which airs most every Saturday at noon EST. I have been corresponding with one of the founders and moderators of the site, Peggy George. She and a number of other fabulous educators (including but not limited to Kim Caise, Lorna Costantini, and Tammy Moore) host a one to one and a half hour webinar “dedicated to supporting teachers with resources and practical suggestions for incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching and learning.”

Right at the end of the school year, Peggy invited me to share my story on one of the August sessions. Just a week prior, our own Megan Wilson (iPodsibilities), a special ed teacher in Orange was the special guest, and she taught the audience how to create eBooks. I was actually terrified to accept but equally terrified of passing up the chance to share my simple story of me as an evolving teacher who in small ways, combined with the rest of our wonderful teaching staff, has attempted to bring our school into 21st Century Learning. As I said in a disclaimer, there are hundreds of other technology integration teachers who are way more advanced than I am who could be telling their stories, but I would do my best to offer something of worth to other teachers. I hope I did that. Below is a screen shot of the intro about me and a link to the recording and all the wonderful links that the organizers, the participants in the chat, and I added to the blog.

http://live.classroom20.com/1/post/2011/08/featured-teacher-carolyn-stanley.html#comments


Make sure to click on the link to the LiveBinder in the resources list. There are also tabs in the Classroom 2.0 LiveBinder to previous shows – including Megan’s.

DEN Summer School

I can’t believe it, but I actually attended every session of DEN summer school that ran from Monday, August 1 through Thursday, August 4. Each of the sessions was rich with resources and advice to help us become better practitioners who help students to discover the excitement of learning and the satisfaction that can be derived in telling and sharing their stories.

Of course, many of the sessions went a a breakneck pace, and I found it hard to keep up. Thankfully, the magnificent Porter Palmer kept everything on track and made sure that all of the sessions were recorded, so we (and others who missed the live presentations) could go back at our leisure and sample segments we wanted to review. The link to the archives was just posted recently: http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2011/08/10/den-summer-school-2011-archives/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DEN+%28Discovery+Educator+Network%29

Those were lovely summer days, and being tied to my laptop for 4 hours was a bit of a challenge. I even suggested to Porter that they need to build in a little time for “potty breaks.” However, the new things I learned really made me excited to go back to school in a few weeks rather than dreading it. Also, the fact that I was able to set up my laptop on a table at the back of my garage, which is all screened in and looks out on the back yard, really helped the experience.

In a future post, I intend to highlight four or five of the resources I learned about and then found the time to explore.

In the meantime, my thanks goes out to all the wonderful educators at DE for their tireless work in helping us become better teachers and learners and for offering such exciting resources for our students.

Den SciCon 2011 at EastConn in Willimantic, CT

I am looking forward to meeting with other educators at the Den SciCon2011 being held in Willimantic, CT tomorrow morning. While it means getting up early and driving over an hour to get to the meeting place when I could just as easily attend by logging onto my laptop at my dining room table, I think it will be worth it to congregate with others and share in the excitement of the webinar sessions.
It promises to be clear and sunny tomorrow but very, very cold. My son went to UConn in nearby Storrs, CT, and I remember how much colder it was there than down in the New Haven area where I live. With Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday on Monday, a “ice” day on Tuesday, a delayed opening on Wednesday, a full day on Thursday, and then another snow day today, it has been a crazy week. I don’t remember having this many days off in a 10-day period every before.
So, meeting and collaborating with other educators tomorrow should be a good thing, and it will be nice to generate excitement for returning to school on Monday with all kinds of new things to share.

Happy New Year to All

Happy New Year’s Day, everyone!

It’s 1/1/11 – how neat is that! I hadn’t even realized the significance of this January 1st until someone tweeted it out.

We celebrated at the home of friends in New Jersey. The couple we visited were newly married when we all started teaching at a junior high school in CT way back in 1969. They stood up with me and my husband when we were married in 1973. We are still friends after all these years, although I am the only one of the 4 still in full-time teaching. The trip back to CT this afternoon was pretty smooth. Christmas vacation has nearly come to an end, and it’s time to get back into school mode. I had intended to do exploring on the Discover Education site this week, but I didn’t get a lot of free time, so I’ll use some of  my time this evening to scout around.

I joined Steve Dembo’s fitness challenge and hope to do well with that.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the 2nd Annual DEN SciCon scheduled for January 22, 2010. Last year the event was hosted at the CT Science Museum in Hartford, and participants, including myself, received free admission to the museum as well as the chance to network with others during the webcast. I wonder if there will be a physical meeting place this year. How fortunate we educators are to have such wonderful training available to us as part of our Discovery Streaming subscription. I am going to encourage my colleagues to tune in, even if only for one session.

Global Education Conference – November 15-19, 2010

I just learned about the Science Sleuths component of Discovery Education Science. There are several interactive modules that really help students understand process skills in investigating science problems. I knew about the interactive simulations, but I had not yet discovered the science process modules where students get to solve a problem and have to access various resources from video to slide shows to print documents in order to gather evidence (written into a notebook that saves their notes) in order to solve a problem. I just started the module about the missing star. Believe me, it’s not easy. You really have to think. I am no where close to solving it. Check it out.

If you can, log into the Global Education Conference, set up by Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 fame. There are multiple sessions to choose from at all hours of the day and night. Here is the link for the sessions in Eastern Standard Time or GMT-5:

http://www.globaleducationconference.com/schedule-gmt-5.html

Enjoy!

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