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My old education blog

Posted by david andrade on Wednesday, Jan 21st, 2009.
What is it that our students really need to know when they graduate high school? Yes, they need some content knowledge, but with the web and instant access to the web, content knowledge is more readily available than when I was in school. Students need a new set of skills and schools need to change to meet this new need. 

The essential skills our students need (multiple sources and research prove these out as needed skills for college, careers, and life): 

Students need to be lifelong learners. They have to be able to access, evaluate, and use different forms of information, use critical thinking, and be able to use technology. 

Students need to be able to create solutions to problems and then present these solutions to others using various forms of media. Students need to display originality and employ problem solving skills as they create. 

Students need to be team players and need to be able to collaborate with others. They need to work successfully as a team, demonstrate cross-cultural awareness, and communicate complex ideas effectively. 

So, how do we teach them these skills? With new lessons and new assessments. Standardized tests and written exams are good for some things, but to teach 21st Century skills, we need to use Project Based Learning (PBL). This is how my college alma mater (www.wpi.edu) has been teaching students for decades and it works. With PBL, students learn how to find information, work in teams, solve problems, and present their ideas. These projects can be short and simple or long term and complex. There are a huge number of web sites and resources dedicated to PBL that all teachers should research. 

Let's help our students develop these new skills that they will need to be successful in the future.
Posted by david andrade on Thursday, Oct 30th, 2008.
Here are my notes from TechForum Northeast 2008. I found the conference to be a great source of information, ideas, and resources. 

* Tech Forum 2008 NOTES 

VIP Breakfast Presentation: 

Lenovo Netbook- looks great. Similar features & price to rest of netbooks but has a card reader too. Talked to Lenovo rep - will look into pilot program in Bridgeport 


Keynote Address: David Warlick (.com) 
"Our Students, Our Worlds" 

We need engineers and scientists - half of NASA's scientists and engineers are over 50 years old. China - 45% of college graduates are engineering, its only 5% in US!! 

Our students are different so we have to teach differently. Global/wired/linked/technology users, interconnected. 

They can do and learn so much more because of the internet 

National Interest to have 100% broadband wireless access 

Video games are great learning tools - collaboration, planning, problem solving 

Have kids create more things rather than just experience already created things. 

Teach students how to teach themselves and how to find information. 

Idea - have students create movie trailers about a topic they are learning. Wiki's too. Decrease lecture, increase student exploration - self learning and in groups. 

2nd Life in Education - Kathy Schrock and Peggy Sheehy 

- great for education. Lots of Professional development areas for teachers and the Teen version has lots of educational things too. Unfortunately, it is blocked by our webfilter. 

Teen Grid is for udner 18 only. 

In 2nd life: some sites that are educational: 
NOAA, 2nd Life Planetarium, ISTE Aquarium, Museum of Music, Virtual Starry Night, ROMA, ISTE, DEN, Lighthouse Learning Island 

It does cost money to run own island - ~$2k to start and then $150/month. You also need money to "buy" things in 2nd life. 

Kathy Schrock did a grant program working on 2nd life in education, along with ACES, EASTCONN and Westport Public Schools. 

It works great because the students really get into it and enjoy it, even when learning. They are also more comfortable sharing and expressing themselves in 2nd life vs. real world. 

You can use it for virtual classrooms, presentations, discussion groups. Can also be made private so others can't come onto your island. 

Digital Learning Spaces 
David Jakes - jakesonline.org 
Ryan Bretag 
(Glenbrook, Ill High Schools) 

Use digital work - pdocasts, wiki's, presentations, blogs, videos 

Online learning spaces extend the classroom out of the building and after school hours 

Create assignments for students to do online - they are more likely to do it on a computer than on paper. 

(Students need online storage and access to it from home ) 

Google Apps- students always have their materials available to them. 

SMART - airtablet www.tequipment. 

Sanako - study mobile software & nokia n810 

Turning Tech- can import from Examview & Testgen?- check on this. 
have a product can allow cellphones to be used as SRS! Cool 

Qwizdom - remote presenter tablet 

Atomic Learning - tech skills tutorials - online videos - really good - we should get 

Renaissance Learning. 2Know. SRS that Bpt Elem and MS have. 


sites to check/use: 
www.searchme.com - search engine 
Posted by david andrade on Wednesday, Oct 29th, 2008.
What a great event! I attended TechForum NE 2008 in Palisade, NY this past Friday, Oct 24th. It was a great event. It was hosted by Tech & Learning magazine (www.techlearning.com ) and had speakers and presentations, vendor presentations, and roundtable discussions. I served as an advisor for the roundtable on Funding for Technology. I learned a lot and make some great connections with other educators. I will be posting more of what I learned in the days to come. You can go to www.techlearning.com and check out materials, videos, and pictures from the conference. 
Posted by David Andrade on Thursday, Apr 24th, 2008.
Much of the reason for drop outs in cities are the lack of home life, lack of motivation, lack of sense of importance on education, and the idea that crime is cool. Why go to school when: my friend makes a ton of money selling drugs, my parent(s) sit at home on welfare and get a check without working. Some of them also only know there own city - they don't know that a bigger, better world exists. They think that a job at Stop and Shop is a great career. They don't have any reason to have any ambition. 

I have idea - let's ask the students who drop out why they dropped out and what would have made them stay in school. Talk to the kids - they are the ones dropping out. 
Posted by david andrade on Tuesday, Mar 18th, 2008.
As the world changes, some of our students are not being prepared to succeed in the future. Yes, we are trying to prepare students for college, but what about the non-college bound student?. Even the college bound programs have a disconnect. 

College bound students are taught a certain way in high school. There is research that shows how we should teach these students and we try to use different techniques, such as inquiry and project based learning, and try to limit lectures. The problem is that many colleges do not do this. The colleges use lectures and the students have to do a lot on their own. We need to make sure we prepare students for college by giving them a college-like experience. We also need to have colleges change the way they teach. My alma mater, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was a pioneer in changing the way science and engineering was taught. Everything is project based and related to real world problems. Students learned the content and also learned how to apply it. We also learned organizational skills and problem solving skills and it has served the alumni of WPI very well. 

The other problem we face is preparing students for a future where they do not attend a traditional college. We need more career preparation and trade courses in every high school. The VoTech schools are full so we need to add these courses to regular high schools. We need to add more intense and advanced electrician, plumber, mechanic, CAD (drafting), computer technician, and other trade programs to the schools and work with the post-grad trade schools to prepare our non-college bound students for careers. This segment of our student population is underserved as education strives to prepare students for college. 
Posted by david andrade on Friday, Jan 25th, 2008.
The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the opinions or policies of Central High School or the Bridgeport Board of Education. My comments about educational issues are generic and are not directed at or about any specific school or district.
Posted by David Andrade on Friday, Jan 25th, 2008.
I have finally completed a project that I thought of many years ago. I have all of my class units and lessons organized using PowerPoint. Here's how it works: 
1. I have a main PPT file that is the Year Plan and has each unit on the slides. These are hyperlinked to the file folder for each unit. 
2. Each Unit has a PPT file for it. This PPT file has the unit title, objectives, and then the unit itself starts. At this point, the PPT has the lecture materials and information on the slides. But it is more than that. 
3. Throughout the PPT lesson, I have imbedded video clips, animations, simluations, hyperlinks to their assignments and resources, links to web sites and links to activities and labs. There are even slides for "QUIZ" and "TEST". 
4. By setting it up this way, the one PPT file is the control link for an entire unit or lesson. To keep track of where I am in the unit with any specific class, I only need to note what slide I left off on. Each slide is either lecture info, or a hyperlink to an assignment, video, lab sheets, or website. 
5. This eliminates paper lesson plans, with separate files for everything else. Everything is in the PPT or hyperlinked to it. It also makes it very easy to modify, add, or delete things from the lessons. Everytime I see something new to add to a lesson, I just add the description and a link in the PPT. 

I think this is a great way to organize lessons. 

I have finally gotten organized to the point where I feel relaxed. And to think, it only took 6 years!
Posted by david andrade on Friday, Jan 25th, 2008.
I've been thinking about 1-on-1 computers and software as service. It would be great to have a computer for every single student in the classroom. The problem has always been cost. But, now with software as service (online based document, spreadsheet, and presentation software, as well as online file storage) costs are much lower. All a student needs is a web browser and internet access. They login to the website and they can work on their files anywhere. The teacher can login and review the student's work at any time and make comments. Students can collaborate with each other on projects. The computer doesn't need a huge amount of hard drive space or expensive software. The students don't need to worry about having the same software on their home computer, or forgetting their CD or flash drive at home. This could truly advance the 1-on-1 effort. 

Along with this goes the fact that most of the work my students do on the computer is online (research and review, websites that are for practice work, tutorials, or virtual labs and simulations). If they have office type software online also, they don't need software on a computer. Textbooks are also now available online and more and more publishers are looking to have online textbooks instead of paper. 

Computer manufacturers, including Palm, should look into producing lightweight, but durable, inexpensive laptops that could be used for this type of work. It would need a good processor and RAM, but could have a small Hard Drive, preferably a Solid State HD (Flash) for faster booting. The only software, outside of a basic operating system, would be a web browser and it's plugins. The device could be made very inexpensively also. Open source OS (like Linux) could be used to further keep the costs down. It wouldn't even need an optical drive, just a couple of USB ports for attaching flash drives and such. It should have an ethernet port, and built in Wifi with an option for a broadband network card. 

With these new advances, we come closer to true 1-on-1 computers for students.
Posted by david andrade on Monday, Jan 7th, 2008.
In the future, I see (hopefully) every student having a wireless pda supplied by the school. It would have bluetooth, wifi, and broadband access for web, email, and instant messaging. Students would use these devices for taking notes, doing assignments, graphing calculator, data acquisition, PIM (schedule, assignments, contacts, etc.), web and podcasts, research, collaboration with other students and experts, assessments (sent to teacher for grading). Students would be more efficient and organized and can bring the device anywhere to do work and research. 

The teacher would have software on their computer to link to all the students' devices and to send and receive data, messages, assignments. Think about the collaboration and research possibilities. Think about the decrease in time for teachers to copy papers, hand out items, and grade papers. Think of the savings in paper too. 

The sad thing is that this technology exists today. Just look at the Palm TX, Treo Smartphones, iPhone, Blackberry, and other PDAs and smart devices. Someday though, we'll be able to use what the business community relies on as a great educational tool. Some schools and classrooms do this now, but it is no where near as widespread as it could, and should be.
Posted by Mr. Andrade on Tuesday, Dec 4th, 2007.
Educational Technology offers so many benefits for both teachers and students. We can not afford to disregard this. We must fund educational technology in our schools. 

Ed Tech can help students learn content, as well as technology skills that they will need to succeed in the 21st century world, whether in college or in a job. Students need to be able to use email, understand basic operating systems, use word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software, and be able to do research on the internet. While doing internet research, a student needs to know how to evaluate an internet source for reliability, accuracy, and bias. 

Ed Tech can also help teachers organize themselves and their classes with email, websites, and personal information management software. 

Teachers can present materials through simulations, animations, multimedia presentations, and internet projects in ways that they never could before. Students will be more engaged and more likely to pay attention and learn the material when technology is used. Students can get extra help through only support systems or software. 

The corporate world has been using technology to increase performance and efficiency for decades. Education has only gotten onto the technology bandwagon in the last 5-10 years. We need to do more with technology so that our students are better educated and better able to succeed in life.