Flashback Friday: Making the Connection

In a year-long review of items I wrote in this blog 5 years ago, this installment of Flashback Friday looks back to October 2004 and the post, Making the Connection. What I wrote:

Kids today are connected. When they go home, they do not pick up the phone anymore. They get on the computer and IM each other. This way, they can have group conversations and keep up with more people and more events at once. If one friend IMs 4 of his buddies about going to the mall, each can ask mom or dad at the same time, and within 2-3 minutes, everyone knows who is going and what time they can go.

We have the same connected environment for our classrooms. By using the WITS Notes pages, students and parents can stay connected to what is going on in the classroom. When teachers post assignments and events to WITS, everyone who needs to see them does automatically.

There is no IM section in WITS, but if the need arises, that can be created as well…

The Internet has broken down the walls of the classroom forever.

So where are we today? How about…

Kids today are connected. When they go home, they do not pick up the phone IM anymore. They get on the computer and IM each other They have been talking and texting on their phones since the final bell rang at school. This way, they can have group conversations and keep up with more people and more events at once. be constantly connected to those they want and need to be with. If one friend IMs Tweets 4 of his buddies about going to the mall, each can ask mom or dad at the same time, and within 2-3 minutes, everyone knows who is going and what time they can go.

We have the same no such connected environment for our classrooms. By using the WITS Notes pages, students and parents can stay connected to what is going on in the classroom. When teachers post assignments and events to WITS, everyone who needs to see them does automatically. How the always connected world of the mobile phone will come to be a part of the learning environment remains to be seen. Some schools are starting to dabble in this, but there are lots of concerns and issues surrounding it.

There is no IM section Twitter feed in WITS, but if the need arises, that can be created as well…

The Internet mobile phone has broken down will disrupt the walls of the classroom forever in ways we have not yet imagined.

That rewrite was more fun than I anticipated. The interesting part is that during those 5 years, the technology changed, the students adapted instantly, and the classroom remained the same. I wonder what my post in October of 2014 will look like?

Flashback Friday: WITS for Kids

In the last year or two many districts have been opening a web portal for parents and students to access information about what is going on in school (grades, etc.). For this month’s flashback, I wrote back in September 2004 about how our internal website, WITS (Williamsville Information Tracking System) was being opened for student and parent access (see the post, WITS for Kids).

Its hard to believe we have had such access for five years now, and in that time, WITS has become increasingly integral to the daily routine of teaching and learning. The developers who write the program behind WITS, Chris and Dan, are incredible in how they meet the needs of a diverse community of users, be it teachers, staff, students or parents. Looking forward, many of the new tools available on the web may influence how our school community interacts with WITS.

Happy 5th birthday, WITS for Kids!

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Flashback Friday: What Matters?

In this month’s flashback, one of the posts I wrote in August 2004 is What Matters? The two questions I posed regarding if using technology in a lesson are appropriate were:

  1. Does the technology allow for new and unique learning experiences that are not possible without it?
  2. Does the technology allow for increased, more efficient learning that is not be possible without it?

Those questions are still applicable, but as I think about how technology fits into the learning process, I believe the better questions are:

  1. What is the learning goal?
  2. How will you know when students achieve the goal?
  3. How will you foster progress toward the goal?
  4. How will you help students practice, review and apply the learning?

These questions look amazingly similar to the planning questions for instruction (courtesy of Robert Marzano), because that is where they come from. What is most important about these questions? The word technology is not used at all. From these goals, specific strategies for instruction are formulated, and from those strategies, technology tools can be selected to match the strategy (or not selected if appropriate). If a technology supports the strategy, then it is an appropriate use. Technology use because it is slick, new, or a substitute for real learning is not appropriate.

What Matters? Learning. Technology does not (a hard thing for a technology integrator to say…).

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Image by Spitzgogo on Flickr

Flashback Friday: Goals for this Blog

Point A to Point B is celebrating what I think is a reasonable milestone – the five year mark. I began this blog immediately after attending the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in 2004 in New Orleans. The sessions that stand out in my mind from then are Bernie Dodge’s spotlight session on wikis (at that point, more did not know what one was than did) and David Thornburg’s spolight session on the direction of media and learning for students. It was at Thornburg’s session that I decided to just jump in and start writing. Teacherhosting.com was a major sponsor that year, so I got on board with their hosting plan, and off I went.

It’s been a fun 5 years. This blog has been an outlet for me to teach, think, and reflect. To that end, I’m going to begin a once-monthly-ish entry titled “Flashback Friday” to look back at a post or posts from 5 years ago to see if anything has changed.

For this inaugural flashback, the best candidate for review is one of my first posts, “Goals for this Blog:”

“There are so many cool things happening in computer technology. Every day I hear of something great that would be super to try in school. It can be hard for everyone to learn about and keep up with what is going on, so this Blog will serve as a diary of what we are doing, or are planning to do.”

I think this goal is a realistic one, and one I’ve held to throughout. As a technology integrator in a school building, my target audience is the people in my building and my district. I sometime write for the bigger global audience, and also for targeted audiences, like the Video in the Classroom page for workshops I do. Primarily, though, I try to sift and sort through what’s going on and provide some clarity and direction. Sometimes I just blather on about what’s on my mind. Still, I think the goal for this blog remains valid to this day, and is worth continuing.

One way I want to improve the focus is by including more items targeted towards students and/or parents. I’ve got a good handle on how to write for teachers and staff, but I’d like to get better at sharing with other groups in the school community.

If you’ve gotten this far and are a glutton for punishment, you can click on the archives link on the left to see what else was on my mind in July of 2004…

Courtesy of KTDEE on Flickr
"Goal Post," by KTDEE on Flickr