Saturday, December 20, 2014

Agape

I have been out of school for a few days. It was unexpected. Some say that it was the Lord's way of telling me I needed to slow down. Perhaps, they are right. I haven't done much in the past few days but lay in bed or on the couch, watch my fill of movies and nap. I've also had time to think, and to reflect. 


I may have watched the movie "Love Actually" a few times, well, more than a few truthfully. It's my weakness, and I'm happy to admit it. One of my absolute favorite parts of the movie is the monologue at the beginning of the film. Well done, Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant and those unsuspecting travelers and loved ones! This very poignant beginning of the film highlights the one very important truth, "love actually is, all around."


The question is, do we take the time to recognize it, in all its myriad of forms on a daily basis? Over the course of the day, where do you see evidence of love? Agape is described throughout the New Testament as the fatherly love of God for us, and our reciprocal love for God. The term also extends to the love that we share for one another. Some of my favorite verses come from 1 Corinthians. Dust off your bible, and turn to 1 Corinthians and you will find much to do about love. Here are but two:

Love never fails; 
but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away;
If there are tongues, they will cease; 
If there is knowledge, it will be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:8

Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14

If you are wondering what on earth this has to do with education and leadership, I beg your indulgence. I believe there is a direct correlation. At our most basic level, we desire to be known by another. If we make the time in our classrooms, in our schools, in our districts to know one another, to love one another, the power of that love will be great. It will allow us to do more, and to be more than we dared to dream of.

In a world that is in constant pursuit of the best, the brightest, the most glowing achievements, we often take for granted the most powerful ingredient of all - love. Without it, I argue there is less opportunity for innovation and creativity to take hold; there is far less risk-taking and sharing of ideas. What I propose then, is this - we slow down. Take the time, indeed make the time to build relationships, to care, to nurture, to really love one another, and see where it takes us. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will take us farther than we dared to imagine.

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you.
And be gracious to you,
The Lord lift up His countenance,
And give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pride and Prejudice - Lessons for Leadership





I love the novel Pride and Prejudice, and I love the 2005 movie adaptation of it equally which rarely happens for me. So you can imagine my excitement, when our unexpected snow day yielded the opportunity to watch it on HBO. I felt a little bit guilty at first because there were plenty of other things that I could be doing, but I just couldn't pull myself away. As I sat there watching, I also couldn't help but make some connections between the movie, teaching, learning and leading.

1) Perception may not be reality. First impressions can, and often are, misleading.
2) Try to view things from multiple perspectives. 
3) Take the time to get to know others, and to build relationships. 
4) Humility.
5) Open communication.
6) Learn from the challenges that come your way.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Going Deeper at NYSCATE14

Over the past few days I had the privilege of attending the NYSCATE Annual Conference in Rochester, NY.  It was something that I had been looking forward to for quite a while. Conferences like these provide the opportunity to meet face-to-face with many colleagues that I regularly engage with in online spaces, but rarely get to "see." They also provide the occasion to make new connections, forge new professional relationships, and learn about current trends in the application of technology in the education setting. As I sit back and reflect on the learning that happened over those three days, I wonder how many people would be surprised by my take-aways. In short, if you are looking for a list of the 20 best apps for use in the elementary classroom, or the newest tool that promises to change the lives of our students, this isn't that blog.

My personal learning intentions/objectives were different this year. I wasn't as interested in the latest and greatest apps or gadgets (though there were plenty of those to be sure, and I did win a pretty cool gadget from NYSDLC), I was more interested in the processes, the systems, the connections, the thinking and the discussions. Some of the most interesting conversations, and thoughtful discussions took place in the hallways, outside the session rooms on the way to the next session, or over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Conversations about the driving forces in education, the power of connections, the necessity of differentiation in many aspects of education, choosing the appropriate tools for a variety of environments, the skills that we anticipate students will need for an unknown future, and student voice. By the time my head hit the pillow each night, my mind was absolutely buzzing. The processing of these discussions, the information, advice, and suggestions will continue for some time to come. Certainly, as I write this, I find myself being pulled back into the curated content, to revisit and to continue to reflect, and push my thinking. For now, I leave you with the following take-aways, and hope that you will consider adding some of your own in the comments below.

Creativity, Innovation and Purpose
Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, Startup Weekend EDU
Sticking Point -> Know your purpose.
Key Question 1 -> Why did we start doing what we're doing in the first place?
Key Question 2 -> Are my actions aligned to this purpose?

Wonder
Jason Latimerhttp://www.jasonlatimer.com/
Sticking Point 1 -> See beyond the illusion of knowledge.
(We don't know it all. Knowledge is a continuous pursuit of understanding.)
Sticking Point 2 -> The right question changes everything.
(We need to help teach each other, and teach our students about the importance of asking good questions.)
Sticking Point 3 -> Bring back wonder.
(We need to stop thwarting it in our young people, and we need to rediscover it in ourselves.)

Ask...and LISTEN
Students of Brighton High School
Sticking Point 1 -> Ask, and perhaps more importantly listen to your students.
Sticking Point 2 -> Encourage authentic partnerships with students in your schools and districts.
Sticking Point 3 -> Empower students, and give them decision making power.

Google For Education: Vision and Future
Stephen Fang, Sales Manager Google Apps for Education
Sticking Point 1 -> 10x Thinking. See the video.
Sticking Point 2 -> Find your passion and make things happen.
Sticking Point 3 -> Have the courage to try to do audacious things where you are!
Sticking Point 4 -> Teaching students to use a particular device, app, piece of software isn't going to get us anywhere, they change, and change quickly. The skills (creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, persistence, risk-taking and other soft skills) on the other hand are interchangeable and the skills will always be necessary.

Being a Relevant Educator in the 21st Century
Tom Whitby and Peter M. DeWitt, Connected Educator Book Series by Corwin Press
Sticking Point 1 -> Everyone has a voice.
(This includes students, families and faculty.)
Sticking Point 2 -> The worst advocates for connected education can be connected educators.
(Those who are connected can quickly overwhelm those who are not, we must be mindful, and meet people where they are. Start slow. Toss a stone into the pond and see it ripple.)
Sticking Point 3 -> The collective power of the group.
(We must engage, empower, and inspire all of our stakeholders.)

Moving from Administrator to Lead Learner
Lisa Meade and Victoria Day
Sticking Point 1 -> Excuses hold us back.
(That and fear. But the primary excuse will always be time and the lack of it.)
Sticking Point 2 -> Connections and learning beyond our classrooms, schools, districts, regions.
(We are better together.)
Sticking Point 3 ->  "Lead Learners" model and shape the conditions for all to learn. Read Vicki's post on what it means here.
("Lead learner" it is more than just a clever new name. It requires actions that back it up.)

Job Embedded PD
LHRIC Model Schools & Irvington UFSD
Sticking Point 1 -> Good instructional tech coaches are hard to find.
(Hard to find the balance of tech expertise and strong instructional practice.)
Sticking Point 2 -> The right model is job embedded.
(The why is clear, the how requires creativity. This is why getting a comprehensive peer coaching program in place is critical.)

Just a few pics from this year's conference. Be sure to check out #NYSCATE14 for curated content on Twitter, and Course Resources from Schoology





Saturday, November 22, 2014

Where You Invest Your Love...Lessons in Leadership Week 7






I am a fan of Mumford and Sons, and I love the line from “Awake My Soul” that says,"Where you invest your love, you invest your life." I come back to that song and quote over, and over. As well as the parable shared in the Gospel of Luke 12:48 (NRSV) "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." We are called to love one another, and to serve one another. It is a demanding and fulfilling thing. So what does this have to do with education, teaching and learning? Plenty, my friends! If you are called to instruct others, to lead learning, to participate in the education of others, then you have been given a great responsibility. You have been entrusted with much, and even more will be demanded of you. If you are a teacher think of the children in front of you each day. If you are a building or district leader think not only of the students you serve, but the staff you serve as well. It can be daunting at times. There are just so many needs. And yet, in these needs, and in this serving you will find that as you invest your love, and your life, the rewards that result will both be great, and unexpected.


The More Things Change...Lessons in Leadership Week 6



Lately, I have been thinking about the number of initiatives, innovations, research and just plain changes in schooling, education and learning. Specifically, I've been wondering about how they are introduced, rolled out, how and to what extent they are implemented. There's no shortage of good ideas, worthy causes, and meaningful work. How do we decide what could, and should be tackled first? Do we tackle more than one initiative, two initiatives or three at a time? I propose the following considerations:

Focus
Embracing numerous initiatives at once blurs our focus. A lack of focus and direction seems to point to a change initiative that is doomed to fail. I mean just think about the number of high-priority concerns that present themselves in a given week, a given day even. All things that require immediate action. If there are too many competing priorities what gets done?

Process
Pilot, and by pilot, I mean truly pilot initiatives. This gives the faculty, staff, building or district, an opportunity to test the initiative before implementing it system-wide. During this time it is possible to determine best practices, identify barriers, and improve buy-in down the road. Too often we see the "mock pilot". You know the type of pilot where a handful of individuals get early access, and yet don't really have the opportunity to be changemakers, providing feedback and direction or re-direction as necessary. If we take the time to pilot in meaningful ways we are able to increase buy-in and problem solve or adapt based on the obstacles that arise. In this fashion we move from reactive, to proactive.

Cascade of Information
Critical to the success of any initiative is timely communication, and involvement, of relevant stakeholders. Insufficient communication paired with change leads to high-anxiety. There are times when a whole group situation makes sense, but the reality is that if you want competence, you must have clarity. If you think about this in terms of teaching, the most powerful lessons are those that are differentiated, and actively engage students, and more often than not are done in small groups.

Usability & Value
In short, those that are being impacted by the change initiative need to understand the why. The reasons may be compelling to you, the individual initiating the change, but until your stakeholders are also in tune with the why, it's not likely that the change initiative will gain much momentum.

Timing
How often have we heard that timing is everything, or it is all in the timing? Yet, sometimes I think these nuggets of advice are ignored.  These are stressful times for many in the world of education. There is no shortage of mandates, and must-do's, and regardless of how fantastic this new initiative is, it is competing with these. Before initiating a change it is wise to get a lay of the land, and to mindfully consider what the present demands are. Is there a time that is perhaps not as laden with other competing demands?

Change is inevitable, as we are constantly in search of innovative ways to do things, but in our excitement to implement these innovations we must do the legwork to ensure a successful implementation.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Effective Teacher Leadership




I am enrolled as a participant in the CNY Leadership Development Program (CNYLDP) which is a joint effort of Le Moyne College, OCM BOCES and participating school districts. The aim of the program is to develop effective teacher leaders. Throughout the program we reflect on what it means to lead, and how we lead. We engage in action research in our districts, and we share our experiences with our colleagues from neighboring districts. Undoubtedly these experiences have improved my professional practice. Yet, I continue to wrestle with what it means to be an effective teacher leader. I wonder if our systems are set up for effective teacher leadership, and whether or not the requisite culture is in fact in place in our schools, and districts to take advantage of teacher leaders.

I've read a ton on the topic of teacher leadership. I've poured over the Teacher Leader Model Standards, had discussions with teachers and administrators and those outside education, I've read countless articles, and what I've learned is that there is a lot to overcome if we are indeed to make the most of teacher leaders, and their various roles.

1) Formal v.s. Informal Teacher Leaders
You have the formal or designated ones, the department chairs, and the instructional coaches for example. Then you have the informal, organic teacher leaders, the ones that just develop naturally in schools and districts. The folks who are often looking to innovate their practice, that are willing to share their journey as they improve their instruction, and facilitate student engagement. These are not mutually exclusive of course, indeed many of the informal teacher leaders often go on to have more formal roles in the future. Whether formal, or informal, the value of teacher leaders lies in their ability to work alongside their colleagues. From what I have observed, the moment a teacher leader is perceived as being "above their colleagues," their overall effectiveness decreases. Teacher leaders must be in the trenches. They are able to lead their colleagues effectively because they bring their own challenges and experiences to the table, they champion learning, and they engage others in very real and authentic ways.

2) Professional Communities  & Culture
For teacher leadership to be truly effective, our organizations need to work to create a professional community, and move away from more hierarchal models. This is no easy task, as it requires active participation and interdependence, genuine concern for all parties, authentic and meaningful relationships and breaking down walls. We need to create an environment in which the expertise of many is honored, celebrated, shared. Leadership must be distributed amongst the faculty.  We all benefit from empowering and encouraging others to acknowledge opportunities to lead.

3) Time
There are many obstacles to effective teacher leadership, but perhaps the one that we hear time and again, is just that - time. There just never seems to be enough of it. We feel pulled in many different directions, important work vying for our attention. It is a constant juggling act. If we are going to improve our overall effectiveness we must address the issue of time. Looking at other high performing countries can shed some light on this issue. See "How High Achieving Countries Develop Great Teachers."

Please share your take on teacher leadership, how we can capitalize on it, and improve it.

Outside My Comfort Zone - Lessons in Leadership Week 4



Stepping outside your comfort zone, well it's uncomfortable. Those who know me, know that I am not particularly spontaneous, that I like things well-planned and predictable. I don't handle ambiguity or uncertainty well. Yet, so often lately this is where I find myself. And as uncomfortable as it can be, I am recognizing that these moments  also tend to be some of the richest opportunities for learning and for growth.

These moments of uncertainty and unpredictability have taught me some pretty valuable lessons:

1) Sometimes you really do just have to let go, and let God. Pray. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

2) Derive strength from supportive colleagues and friends. This has been huge for me over the past few years. Having individuals that you can call on, confide in, and elicit honest feedback from are critical.

3) Quiet the doubting voices in your head by continuing to move forward. Even if it's just baby steps, incremental progress is infinitely better than no progress at all.

4) Check out the long-range forecast. Try not to focus too much on the present turmoil and look beyond it.

5) A little humility goes a long way. Be willing to laugh at yourself.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

#EdcampUNY - Professional Learning at its Best

#EdcampUNY



First a Bit of Gratitude

Just about a year ago I sat in this very spot and wrote a reflection on my experience at the Edscape conference in New Jersey. It was also about this time that Peter DeWitt, Lisa Meade, Vicki Day, Tim Dawkins, and I started to discuss bringing an Edcamp to Upstate New York. So much has happened in the past year, but certainly one of the highlights is seeing our dream, and our plan for an Edcamp, come to fruition.

It is hard to describe exactly what I'm feeling at this precise moment, so I hope you'll bear with me. Before I get into precisely what happened yesterday in Queensbury, I need to take a moment to express my gratitude.  First, and foremost, to our families for allowing us the opportunity to take time away from them to work on this project. To the Queensbury School District, particularly to Queensbury High School who opened their doors to us. To Mr. Matt Hladun for sharing his time, talents and technology expertise. Special thanks as well to the Edcampers that participated in our very first Edcamp.  Many of you traveled great distances, and made the Edcamp experience what it was, by sharing your ideas, passions, and knowledge with all of us. To Jon Harper and Douglas Manion who assisted the night before and the day of the event, your insight and support was truly appreciated. Last, but not least the EdcampUNY organizing committee - my colleagues and friends: Tim Dawkins, Vicki Day, Peter DeWitt, Lisa Meade and Patti Siano. Thank you for the laughs, camaraderie, and inspiration. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn from you and work with you.

The Power of an Edcamp

If I had to sum it up in one word, I guess it would be participation. I think the power of any individual Edcamp comes from the participation of the attendees. With an Edcamp there are no scripted sessions or pre-determined schedules. The conference is built by the participants. Their knowledge, experiences, passions, questions and challenges and their willingness to share them with others are what determine the experience. I have participated in a number of conferences, and I can say that you would be hard-pressed to find a conference experience that is more engaging, informative and thought-provoking than an Edcamp. Having the ability to follow your interests, and the collaborative nature of the event itself seems result in powerful professional learning.  

What Happens at EdcampUNY, Doesn't Stay at EdcampUNY...

We've all seen the ads that tell you, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." As I was driving home from Queensbury today, it struck me that the exact opposite of that was going to happen with those of us who attended EdcampUNY yesterday.  The amazing things that were shared, discussed, challenged and learned were not going to be confined to Queensbury, NY or to this singular event, the impact that the event had was not going to be limited to those who could physically be in attendance, the impact indeed is going to be felt across the nation. A pretty strong statement considering the actual size of the event, but this, "is the little Edcamp that could" and it did. Participants in this Edcamp shared their learning during the event as they tweeted with the hashtag #EdcampUNY, they sent emails and texts to their administrators and instructional coaches. They voxed their friends and colleagues with the things they were learning. They are blogging about the impact of the day, and how they are empowered to try something new. Some are even sharing how they are going to go back and work on an Edcamp for their own region or district. This is how I know, that the learning and sharing, the inspiring and empowering will not end just because our little event did.






Professional Learning: It's What You Make It



StartUp Liverpool
Superintendent's Conference Day
I love professional development, yup, you read it right. I said, "I love professional development." Let me explain. I love learning. I read about education, blog about education, tweet about education, vox about education, have conversations about education with educators and non-educators alike, watch videos and documentaries about education, and participate in conferences all around issues and best practices in education, so yes, I do love professional development.  My idea of professional development is not narrowly defined as the professional development that is done to me, or even for me. No, my definition of professional development is all encompassing, mostly due to the fact that I am taking responsibility for MY professional development.  So in that vein, all of the above are avenues or ways for me to improve or develop as a professional.

So often as educators we complain about the lack of training, or the lack of professional development if you will. Of course, if I am expected to instruct using particular programs, or utilize specific tools, I would like to have some specific training on those items. But, the reality is that despite the best intentions of our administrators, trainers and instructional coaches, there is rarely enough time allotted or sufficient training given, during formal PD sessions for educators to walk away able to successfully implement a given tool or program. I think there are a few things that need to happen. First, we need to take some responsibility for our own learning. We need to be active participants that are willing to engage, to try something new, to take some risks. Second, we need to take advantage of the expertise of our colleagues.  There are many experts within our buildings, within our districts, and certainly within a larger Professional Learning Network. Third, we need to look at the delivery of PD in new ways, and be open to learning and engaging in new ways.

Our job is difficult, the demands are many, and time seems fleeting, but quality professional development can inspire, empower and challenge us in ways we could have never imagined. Thus, making our jobs a little easier, the demands seem a little less demanding, and our classrooms more engaging.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Game Changers: Lessons in Leadership Week 3

Another busy week has come and gone, and as I sit down to write this I am struck with just how much learning happens in the span of a week. There is so much we, as educators, can learn about instruction and learning by studying the work and play in our classrooms, in our homes and in our community. Learning that occurs without set objectives, without a structured lesson plan, without formal assessments. Please don't misunderstand, I believe those lessons are important, and formal assessment is a critical part of teaching and learning, but it is interesting to dig into those unstructured moments and evaluate what is happening and how we might tap into that.

My son is a third grader, and my daughter a first grader. They are opposites in many ways, but they are both curious kids, they love to play and they love to learn. My son will spend an hour roaming around outside looking for insects, frogs and toads. He will go online and read books to learn more about local fish species and to learn about the best bait to use. Josh will also round up his friends and start a game of baseball in the backyard or make up some game that he and his buddies can play. My daughter, Cassie, loves school and you can often find her playing the role of teacher to her stuffed animal students. She loves to read, to draw, to sing and to dance. Regardless of the activities they choose, learning is always happening.


Last week at her skating lesson Cassie fell; she fell more than once, and she fell hard. But she continued to get up, and to try again. There were points when she looked a little defeated, but she continued. Her coach seemed to sense the precise moment when she needed some redirection, and when she just needed to figure it out for herself.

The other night Josh came home and it was a "light" homework night. He finished, rather begrudgingly, the ELA worksheet he was assigned. I encouraged him to put forth his best effort, and to write legibly. I don't recall specifically what the worksheet was about and I'm pretty sure Josh won't be able to either, but ask him what he did after that, and you'll get a detailed explanation of how he created his own adventure book. Yup, my son who "hates writing" decided to author and illustrate his own story, and was encouraging his friend and sister to do the same. Insisting that they could write the next great adventure series. He apparently is also looking into personal finance, as he intends to charge 50 cents for each of his books. Anyhow, as I watched the scene unfold, I couldn't help but smile and marvel at what was happening. It also caused me to wonder about the deeper meaning, both for me as a teacher and as a learner, trying to improve my craft.

Yesterday, the kids came home with Pony Beads and plastic lace, which were staples in my programming days at a camping resort in Maine. Even though I had a number of other things that needed to get done, we sat down and created geckos with the Pony Beads. We talked about my life as an assistant program director, we talked about geckos, and what they look like and where they're found. We ran into some difficulty part way through, because my memory isn't as sharp, and I had a hard time remembering the pattern, so we took to Google. We followed part of the pattern and improvised. Having completed the gecko, they were eager to find other designs. I on the other hand had to tackle more mundane activities like laundry and ironing, but I had a great vantage point for listening in on their conversations. They poured over the designs, and discussed which ones they should attempt, which ones they might modify, they watched video tutorials by other kids. Beads and lace were strewn across the living room floor, and two kids were hard at work. It was authentic, it was meaningful, and it was learning.


Those stories while cute or endearing, actually point to something a little bit bigger I think. They point to ways in which we need to think about our roles as educators, our instructional practices, the ways in which we engage our students and the opportunities that we provide. Which leads me to what is game-changing in education.  There is no shortage of discussion around game changers in education. In fact, Saturday morning there was a lively chat on Twitter (see the storify of the #SATCHAT courtesy of moderator Billy Krakower), where educators across the country discussed the idea and described what they felt were the current game changers. The funny thing is the more tweets I read discussing things like the newest piece of technology or latest tool, project based learning, flipped classroom, coding, growth mindset, etc. the more I shook my head, and thought about my two kids and what I have witnessed with them at home, and then with 24 students in my classroom these past couple of weeks. It suddenly struck me that it is the kids. Kids like mine, like yours, the ones in our classrooms, and the ones down the hall - they are the real game changers.







Thursday, October 9, 2014

Goosebumps

I'll admit it, "Goosebumps" is kind of an odd title for a post. The truth is, however that for the past couple of days I have had goosebumps - a lot. The excitement in our classroom has been palpable, and you would be hard pressed to figure out exactly who in the room is more excited, the students or myself. The excitement for me at least comes from the authentic, and meaningful learning, the demonstration of skills that have been mastered, the evidence of teamwork and collaboration on the part of my students. The excitement for them is partly due to being able to use some pretty cool new tools, but I think they also are able to recognize their growth, and are excited to share their learning as well.

This week we were able to login to our Google accounts for the first time. It may not sound like much at first blush, but there are now 24 third graders that have access to amazing possibilities for collaboration, both synchronously and asynchronously. Students, that as a result of the features of Google Apps for Education, are going to have numerous opportunities to collaborate and share with peers at both a local, and global level; sharing their work, receiving timely feedback, revising, editing, and sharing some more. Pretty powerful learning in a nutshell.  Being able to access our Google accounts also made it possible to login to the new Chromebooks that we are piloting for the next 6 weeks or so.  We are pretty impressed by the versatility of the Chromebooks, and are using them to access online practice for ELA and math, to post to our blogs, to engage in coding tutorials, to conduct research, to take notes, and present information, and see a number of other potential uses.


Students also got their hands on our buildings' iPads yesterday, and were able to work on some basic block coding using a couple of different apps (Hopscotch, Daisy the Dinosaur, and Kodable). There are so many layers of skills that go into coding, even at the most basic level. Everything from problem solving and logic, to the ability to hypothesize and predict, analyze and evaluate, to learn independently and in collaboration with others, and certainly to develop risk taking and perseverance. It is truly wonderful, and inspiring to see a group of students sit and tackle a problem and a program, that would honestly intimidate many adults, with little to no formal instruction.

Finally, we are extremely fortunate this week to be able to work with one of the District's traveling Nao Robots. I'm going to be honest, this tech tool and I know it is just a tool, a vehicle for learning, is awesome. I mean, having a robot was something I dreamed about when I was a kid. I loved The Jetsons and envisioned having a Rosie of my very own, of course what I got for Christmas that year was Robie the Robot, an RC controlled device, whose abilities were pretty limited. Anyhow, back to the present and to my third grade classroom, where we are now using Choreographe software to program a humanoid robot, it isn't difficult to imagine the level of excitement in the room. And as excited as I was to have this robot in our classroom, it actually doesn't compare to the feeling of watching the students engage and learn with it.  One of the absolute highlights for me, was watching one of our struggling students take the lead in his group, grabbing the manual and reading to his peers, explaining what they needed to do. He was so determined to access this high-level text, to understand what they would need to do and to execute it, it was nothing short of amazing. I was equally impressed by another group, and their willingness to work as a team, to trouble-shoot and to encourage. This is the power of technology in the classroom.



I know there are many skeptics out there, but I think their skepticism comes primarily from a lack of understanding, and a little bit of fear.  Integrating all of this technology can seem overwhelming, but you really do not need to be a computer expert to take advantage of Google Apps for Education or coding in the classroom. What you do need, is a willingness to try, to make mistakes and in many regards just let the students drive the learning. It may be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, but the rewards are tremendous, and the learning is important.