Flipped, Blended, Distracted

Schools provide teachers with the training tools for flipping the classroom by Wylie Wong from EdTech Magazine
In order for innovative ideas such as flipped classrooms to work, teachers and administrators have to understand how to use the technology as well as technology integration.

Is the technology ‘ready’ for blended learning? By Michael Horn from Forbes
Horn asserts that blended learning and technology have not caught up with one another. Different needs and different models contribute to the challenges.

To Make Blended Learning Work, Teachers Try Different Tactics By Katrina Schwartz
from MindShift
In another article about blended learning, Schwartz talks about how blended learning is often an attempt to use traditional teaching methods with new technology. Some teachers easily integrate technology into their lessons and their classrooms, while others have less success. Some teachers are overwhelmed by the new technologies while others thrive on the challenges it presents for taking leaning in different directions.

Teachers: Technology changing how students learn  by Matt Ritchel from The New York Times
Two independent studies with teacher participants, one by the Pew Research Center and the other by Common Sense Media, seem to show that while teachers think the Internet and other technology has had a positive impact on student research skills they are concerned that technology contributes to students’ short attention span and their ability to focus.

Teachers concerned about students’ online research skills  from eSchool News
In a slight contradiction of the New York Times report, this article, also reporting on the Pew Research Center project, says that while teachers think that student access to research tools is improved, they are not necessarily good consumers of what they find. There is so much information available that they can become easily distracted and lose focus.

An Interview with Tim Holt, Author of ‘180 Questions’

By Bonnie Bracey Sutton
Associate Editor

[Note: Article updated on 11.10.12 — graphics added. -Editor]

Give a little of your background so we know who you are. Describe your work and how you assist teachers.

I’ve been in education for about 27 years now. I started as a classroom teacher and was a middle school science teacher for over a decade. I then moved on to administrative positions in my school district: I have worked in gifted and talented education, I’ve been an evaluator in education research, and most recently and for the last eight years I’ve been the Director of Instructional Technology for the El Paso Independent School District. My job is to try to try get teachers to use technology in the classroom with their students. I have a really great team of people that go out and train teachers on how to integrate technology into their lessons. Along the way I’ve been the President of the Science Teachers Association of Texas as well as President of the Technology Education Coordinators SIG, which is a statewide group in Texas of Instructional Technology Directors. Most people that know me from outside of Texas know me from my blog, which is now residing on Tumblr and is called HOLTTHINK.

What made you write 180 Questions: Daily Reflections for Educators and Their Professional Learning Communities?

For the longest time I thought just having a blog would be a good enough place to share my ideas and share what I was doing, but after a while I started thinking that a book would be a good place to put ideas that had to do with a very specific topic. The blog I have is kind of self-reflective and bounces all over the place from instructional technology to politics to different kinds of education topics, whereas the book is centered specifically on thinking about Professional Learning Communities or PLCs. What I wanted to do in this book was to give educators the opportunity to start doing a lot of reflection, which is something I think is sorely missing from a lot of professional development these days. What I see happening in professional development is people going in, getting trained on something, which they may or may not use, and then there is no follow-up, there is never anything that happens afterwards so you never know whether that training was useful or not useful.

The purpose of the book was to look at how we look at ourselves as educators. When I was growing up, every evening my parents had this booklet called The Upper Room, which was a daily devotional that had a little message with a meaning, and a prayer. Every night at dinner my father would read the daily passage, which they picked up at church each Sunday. I don’t even know if they still make it anymore, but I liked that idea of having something that made you think or made you jump out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. So that was kind of the genesis for the idea of doing 180 Questions. The “180” comes from the length of a typical school year here in the United States.

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Oakland Unified School District Uses GIS to Further Academic Achievement

By Jim Baumann
Esri Writer

Oakland, California, lies directly across the bay from San Francisco. During the California Gold Rush in the mid-eighteenth century, it served as the main staging point for miners and cargo traveling between the Bay Area and the Sierra foothills. Today, the city continues to serve as a major cargo terminus, and its seaport is the fourth busiest container port in the United States.

Due to the economic opportunities provided by the Gold Rush, the city was a destination for immigrants looking for greater prosperity. As a result of this and successive migrations, Oakland is now known for its ethnic diversity, with significant populations of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Caucasian residents. While valuable from a cultural perspective, this poses certain challenges for local government, particularly the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), which must accommodate the diverse needs of its students, who speak more than 70 languages at home.

OUSD includes 61 elementary schools, 16 middle schools, 20 high schools, three K–8 schools, and one 6–12 school, as well as special education, independent studies, and early childhood education centers. It is the seventieth largest school district in the United States, and there are about 38,000 students in its K–12 programs. Chronic absenteeism is a major concern for the district, with nearly 40 percent of students in the East Oakland areas dropping out of high school before graduation. OUSD works with the Urban Strategies Council (USC), a nonprofit organization located in Oakland, to collect and analyze data related to school attendance and other social issues in the city.

Implementing a Community Data Portal with ArcGIS for Server

USC has used Esri‘s ArcGIS software for more than 20 years, applying it to a wide range of urban policy and reform initiatives affecting Alameda County, where Oakland is located, including health care services, affordable housing, violence prevention, education analysis, urban planning, disaster mitigation, and school absenteeism. It recently launched InfoAlamedaCounty Map Room, a free data portal that provides access to public datasets to the community for research, application development, civic engagement, and analysis.

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