Monday, September 28, 2009

Books at the Mall (National Mall, that is...)

This past weekend, I had the privilege of going, once again, to the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. What did I see? TONS of people and TONS of books! There were several well-known authors on site… Nicholas Sparks, Judy Blume, John Grisham, Walter Mosley, Ken Burns, Steven Kellogg, James Patterson, and Paula Deen – just to name a few.

In addition to the authors, there were countless big name sponsors to promote literacy in education. Although most sponsors were impressive in their literacy messages… The Digital BookMobile caught my eye!

Powered by OverDrive, The Digital BookMobile is quite similar to the bookmobile I remember as a child. It was quite cool to see the bookmobile pull up outside the school with “special” books the library did not have. The bookmobile can still drive up to your school… but, technology now replaces the standard book shelves and displays. According to their website, “the vehicle is equipped with broadband Internet-connected PCs, high-definition monitors, premium sound systems, and a variety of portable media players. Interactive computer stations give visitors an opportunity to search the digital media collection, use supported mobile devices, and sample eBooks, audio books, music, and video from the library.”

Now… if the bookmobile is not scheduled to stop at your school or in your county, what do you do? Simple. You visit the Forsyth County Library website to still gain access to those same eBooks, music and videos! Step by step guidelines and instructions are on the site to give you the ins and outs for getting started.

Take the tour to begin using ebooks in your classroom!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Train, Work, & Learn

"You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it." This was what I consider an impressive charge from President Obama Tuesday in his message to America's students. Interesting thing about those words? That not only applies to our 21st century students of today - it applies to us as educators, as well.

Train for it... well, pretty obvious what he means... But, as educators, we have to put the time in to understand that our efforts on a daily basis make us better at what we actually do. Remember the coined phrase "on-the-job-training"? Hopefully, each day, we (on purpose!) get a bit better at what we do. Put into practice what you do know!

Work for it... You have to put your time in, as the old saying goes. Go the extra mile. Step outside the box. Don't expect something different if you're doing the same things to get there... The cliches applicable here are endless, but in reality, there is work involved in moving our classrooms into the here and now. No classroom will become a successful product of 21st century integration overnight. It takes time. The success will come and the results will be evident in your overall student engagement and learning. Day by day, week by week, semester by semester.

Learn for it... That is where technology staff development workshops and courses come into play. Participating in the workshops and online courses we offer gives a good foundation to get things rolling in your classroom. Hopefully, you will leave each workshop inspired to try something different in your classroom with your newly acquired 21st century skills. Learning is who we are as educators - so it should be happening all the time, right?

Want to watch the President's speech or read the script for yourself? Check them both out here...
Need a refresher on his views of American education? Here is a recap.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Today's blog post is inspired by a book I am currently reading... Laurie Richlin's "Blueprint for Learning". What caught my eye, instantly, was a simple, yet very thought-provoking sentence. "Every action we take as instructors is based on our expectation that our students will be able to change something that they know, feel, or can do." Wow!

As an instructor of teachers (and a former instructor of students) I can say that it is indeed true that our actions do speak louder than words. What are we saying to our students based on what we do and how we teach? We use all the 21st Century Learning buzzwords like engage, create, collaborate, design, etc. etc. But, what are we literally "doing" in our classrooms that physically show the meanings of those words and what it actually looks like to incorporate 21st century skills into the class... daily.

This post should cause some reflection... which then hopefully leads to inspiration... which should then lead to action. The ball is in your court. Let your actions show you are on board with technology not because you know the buzzwords, but because you believe it can truly change something a student knows, feels, or can do.