Wednesday, September 10, 2008

N.E.T.A.: Omaha, Nebraska

N.E.T.A.: Omaha, Nebraska
Scott Plummer knows how to impress someone. I received an invitation from Scott to be a feature speaker at the 2,500 plus attendees of the Nebraska Educational Technology Association Conference this past April. During our conversations of making arrangements for the conference he mentioned a few of the other speakers;

Will Richardson,
Will Richardson is known internationally for his work with educators and students to understand and implement instructional technologies and, more specifically, the tools of the Read/Write Web into their schools, classrooms and communities.

Dr, Tim Tyson:
Dr. Tim Tyson, named one of Georgia's High Performance Principals by State Governor Sonny Perdue, served as the principal of Mabry Middle School in Cobb County, Georgia. The School Library Journal has referred to Dr. Tyson as the "Pied Piper of Educational Technology," and his innovative use of technology to maximize student achievement.

Bernajean Porter,
Bernajean, an educator for over 35 years, is internationally re-known to educators for her belief that technology can accelerate kids-of-all-ages rediscovering their joy and personal success as learners. Her philosophy of work uses cutting edge organizational processes for building local capacity to translate the power of technology’s potential into actual classroom practices.

…and then me…..

The selection committee liked the idea of a presenter who could think outside the box, challenge the group and provide new, hands on skills for the classroom.

I always do a survey at the beginning of a keynote, so I know the make-up of the audience. I ask 5 quick questions o; 21st Century Skills, Web 2.0, Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts. I am always amazed at the numbers of educators who know about the technologies but are not using any of the new “Tools” in the academic classrooms. Reasons are many but the number one issue is Professional Development. Many school districts still don’t get it. They buy the technology, put it in the classroom and tell the teachers to use it.

As a former C.I.O., my number one priority was Technology Staff Development. Our District Technology Committee always met before we installed and implemented any new technology. Our IT staff and Professional Development Coordinator always worked together to make sure the staff and instructors were proficient with the new equipment and software. Classes were offered using school time and we provided substitutes for the teachers to cover their classes. We also provided after school classes and provided college graduate credit to anyone who desired it.

In the past, when I meet with many administrators, I hear whining and wiggling reasons of not enough money or time for Technology Staff Development.
Fortunately, that is starting to change. In my next posting, I will share some real leaders around the country that make the Technology Staff Development and 21st Century Skills a priority.

Ok....Off my soapbox and back to the conference. I actually did 3 different presentations. The first on Web 2.0 tools, the second on Visual Literacy and the final one on Free Software for the 21st Century Classroom. I am always amazed at the response after the presentation as I travel from conference to conference. Educators that converse after the presentation about how they are inspired to stat and change the way they can use the new “Tools” in their classroom. BUT..the best part is when I get an e-mail from them and how they have transformed and changed their classroom.

An e-mail from a recent presentation.


Just wanted to touch base with you and let you know that we have several teachers and classrooms that are already incorporating strategies that you introduced at the training you provided in Julesburg. The teachers and students are excited by the new teaching and learning experiences. Thanks so much for your assistance it is making a difference and I know sometimes when you present you never know if what you are doing makes a difference. Also am attaching the US News and World Report Rankings of the Best High Schools in America that I had mentioned to you during training. The Julesburg School District made the list for 2008, out of the 178 school districts in Colorado we were 1 of the 26 in Colorado to make it and out 18,000 High Schools across America we were in the top 2500 High Schools. We are proud of the academic achievement of our students and as district do very well but we are constantly trying to improve and the training you provided will definitely help us stay at the top and hopefully improve on our abilities to reach all students. Once again thanks so much for your efforts and keep up your important evangalistic mission of transforming education.

Shawn Ehnes
Julesburg School District

Next: T.I.E. Colorado

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