Teach Me High School Technology Evaluation Summary
Teach Me High School is located in an urban environment. The population is roughly 25% African American, 25% Caucasian, 25% Asian, and 25% Latino. The predominant language spoken on campus is English, however more Hispanic families are immigrating into the school. Teach Me is a charter school and by district policy, its demographic statistics mirror that of the city. By state or charter school policies, students are chosen randomly through a lottery, however to be in the lottery parents need to know the school exists and they need to formally apply. The school has roughly 425 students, about 100 students per class. About 98% of graduating seniors indicate they are going to continue at a community or four year college after graduation.
Administratively the school falls in the integrated realm because each department gets to have a say in the technology available to that department. Ultimately, though, all decisions are approved by the principal. Even though there is an Instructional Technologist on staff full time, he still has his purchases approved by the principal before they can be executed. The school moved to the Google platform, much like what Boise State does. They use Google docs to collaborate and communicate, however what happens at in-person meetings is not documented well for those who are unable to attend. The online access to all information is also somewhat convoluted and it can be difficult to find all of the documents or to remember all of the documents and databases that need to be monitored.
Attendance is taken online every block. Grades are managed by PowerSchool so students and parents have access to student grades 24/7. Teachers are given deadlines by which they need to update grades so parents and students have a somewhat continuous idea of how well the students are progressing. The school has chosen to not use a Scantron type of system which also means they have chosen to not use a computer database to automatically track multiple choice assessments. Grading is still done by hand and some teachers utilize students to grade multiple choice tests. Since grades are managed by PowerSchool, teachers are forced to adapt to a percentage-based grading system.
When teachers have long-term assignments, they will take students to the computer lab daily so students can do research. Seniors have to do a project that requires online research and also requires they make a website, however I am not aware of any formal training the teachers or the students go through to learn how to make the websites. Many teachers incorporate having students figure out things for themselves as a deliberate way of having the students be engaged with the technology. Not all teachers choose to use the computer lab. Many teachers will show PowerPoint presentations via a LCD projector. In 2010, the last year I worked at the school, no classroom had an interactive whiteboard or a clicker system to do any formative assessments.
More teachers are having students make websites, however their construction still follows a predominantly linear organization. The dynamic properties of the web do not seem to be integrated into these electronic assignments yet. Given that much of what is done for classroom use or assignments is determined by more than one person, the school is beyond the emergent stage. Since the cycle of feedback is usually limited to a few adults, the school still behaves as islands of expertise.
For support the school falls mainly in the integrated stage, however some features fall in the intelligent zone whereas others fall in the emergent phase. Since the school has one designated full time adult who knows technology on staff, much of the support the school needs is there. There are times when he is budgeted a support person who will assist with machine and software needs. Whenever something changes globally with the school’s systems, the staff goes through training during a professional development time. It is normal to have updates at every faculty meeting to help new teachers understand the policies or to let the entire staff know when changes are being done and the consequences of those changes. Some teachers are able to get training because they become affiliated with a grant that is based on using technology. Other teachers pursue learning about technology on “their own time.”
The school falls between integrated and intelligent for the connectivity. The entire school has wireless access to the Internet and email. Staff that need to bypass the filter are given a password so if they want to use a YouTube video in class they can. Specific sites are restricted due to state law or school policies. Being a charter school, there is very little communication with the district. The school has zero dependence on the district for its technology hardware or software so there is very little need to be actively involved with a district WAN.
Innovation happens between islands that are somewhat integrated. No staff member deliberately shuns technology, however not everybody chooses to embrace new technology. For example, I wanted to do asynchronous discussions with my students so our IT person made our Moodle shell accessible to my class. He had not been trained on how to use Moodle yet but he did not let that stop him from letting staff members who wanted to figure it out to try it. Sure the Moodle set-up was messy, but we were able to do an asynchronous discussion. If a teacher wants to use technology that is available, they are more than welcome to use it. The bulk of the staff, however, is still in the frame of mind where using the overhead projector counts as technology and using the LCD projector makes it easier to show PowerPoint presentations.
The school falls mainly in the integrated realm with a few spikes into intelligent. Compared to other schools I have either worked at or been involved with, they are much further along with embracing technology.
I am not so confident about this lesson as I have been with others because I look at other people’s posts in the discussion area and I’m thinking that I missed something in the directions. My listings in my reader are really short. I will have to investigate if that is a consequence of the sites I’ve chosen to subscribe to and forward to my shared reader page or if I am not sharing to my shared page in Google reader correctly.
This is the link to my Google reader shared page:
A couple things- I need to know if you can not access the shared page. If you are using your broncomail email address, you should be able to access the page.
I created an EDTECH 501 contacts group and put the entire class in it. I am only sharing my shared page with the EDTECH 501 group. I tried to start a reader in my boisestate gmail account but I could not find a link to reader, even under the More tab in the top navigation bar. Even searching the Google apps for Reader was unsuccessful so I’m using Google reader at my normal gmail account. If you see Ntropi, that is because I am ntropi (aka entropy). My husband has made me way too paranoid to make everything I do open to everybody. Until I get a better feel for how reader works, my shared page is going to be private. I wish I could create a share page for each group. If that can be done, please share with me how to do it.
I would like to be able to create a share page for each group because it would let me easily create a share page for each class / section I teach. Most 6-12 grade teachers have more than one section of students per day. You may want to do a project with one section, but not another. I would use the RSS links to help guide students toward useful information for the projects. It would let me provide structure as well as help show students which resources can be trusted online. Ideally I could set up a RSS page for each class or project- then again there are so many RSS applets that I bet there is one that will do it and I’m just too ignorant at the moment.
I can see myself use RSS like I’ve started using Twitter. I’ll read my Twitter feed to get an idea of what the most talked about topics are- cute little snippets that I can usually click on to get to the article if I want to read it. The RSS feeds are similar in that they are usually a 2 sentence summary (more or less) about the article they are linked to. I would just need to get myself in the habit of checking my RSS feed. I did add the RSS gadget to my iGoogle page so maybe I will check the links more often. I am sure there is an RSS feed app I can put on my iPad. Yep, if I did that, then I’d be sure to become addicted. In the past few weeks I’ve become very fond of getting information quickly to keep up to date without getting stuck in opinion wars or a bunch of “facts” that really don’t have much use to me at the moment.
Again, please let me know ASAP if the link does not work. Thank you!
I added a reply to my discussion post in the EdTech 501 RSS feed discussion. This is what I said:
I was answering the questions based on what was on the discussion page where we enter our responses. After looking at other people’s entries, I see that either I misunderstood something or I was not paying attention to details or something….
I now have a post at my Learning Log.
Thinking about it, I am even more confused because you can’t specify a Google reader shared page to be about a specific topic- what I mean is that I can’t have an educational resources page, a political page, a science page, etc. I have to put all of my shared links on one page.
Am I supposed to have multiple Google reader accounts? I am not sure I can even do that because I can’t even figure out how to use Google reader through my Boise State gmail account. I started a Google reader page in my personal Google account a year ago and since it is already in place, I don’t know how to change it to make it specifically about Education or how to make pages directed to specific audiences.
If you have a clue- please advise me what to do. I’m not trying to be a slacker. If anything, I’m overwhelmed this week with all that is happening (outside of this class) and I tried to post this early to be ahead of the craziness this week. Do I chalk this up as a “FAIL”?
P.S. I’ve started investigating the iPad apps and so far most of them just seem like a way to tap into Google reader. In fact, it seems to be the only reader they want to connect with. I was thinking I could get a reader account at Google and someplace else that organizes RSS feeds (which I have not found yet), but nope, it looks like all of it goes into Google’s reader. If I find differently, I’ll post a reply to this post and let you know what I found.
Update July 15:
I don’t know how it happened, but I can now use Google reader with my Boise State gmail account. This is supposedly the link for the shared page with the Boise State gmail Google Reader: https://www.google.com/reader/shared/02036754982538207421
I still can not be logged in to my email@example.com and my firstname.lastname@example.org email accounts at the same time, but I think if I open them up in different browsers, I can access both email accounts relatively simultaneously.
I plan to use this Google reader account for topics relating to Educational Technology, teaching, or online learning. I’ll keep my other Google reader account for non-career or silly things. Plus I don’t feel like I need to make groups for the Boise account because someone would probably have to know me or have the link to access this reader account. I am hoping that I don’t lose my Boise acct if I graduate. I thought the days of revoking email accounts from students as they graduated were over. (My UCDavis email account was taken from me when I graduated in 1994.)
I am still looking into how to make more than one Google Reader shared list and it appears that if I have more than one gmail account, I can do it. It would be one Google Reader shared sheet per gmail account. How many teachers want multiple gmail accounts for every class or subject they teach? I will keep trying out iPad and iPod apps to see if any of them let me classify feeds into particular shared pages. So far all I’ve found are apps that let me import my feeds that are already registered with a Google Reader account.
If I find out more, I will come back and post yet another reply to myself to let you know what I’ve found.
This is an assignment for EdTech 501. We were given 7 recommendations and were asked to evaluate them, followed by our suggestions on how to spend the money. I made a PowerPoint presentation that can be accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/ntropi/suggestions-for-state-allocations-of-technology-funds There is no audio at the SlideShare link.
In addition, I made a video in Camtasia, but it turned out to be huge. I don’t know if you’ll be able to open the video. Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/MGetz501mod3