Monday, December 28, 2009

The Effectiveness of Online Interactive Standardized Assessment Practice Programs in 10th Grade Social Studies Learners

Greg Wright
Lamar Masters Educational Leadership
Educational Research

• Title
The Effectiveness of Online Interactive Standardized Assessment Practice Programs in 10th Grade Social Studies learners.
• Introduction and Background

Technology in education has grown as technology itself has developed. New online technology educational models have been identified as our utilization of technology in education improves. (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006) New categories are even being added as the abilities to enhance the learning experience grows with our knowledge of how to best utilize the awesome resources of online technology. (Connolly & Stansfield) With booming growth like this it is understandable that some problems arise along the way. One that bears considerable thought is the availability of sufficient internet bandwidth capabilities. (Hofer, 2004) Plagiarism and protecting the privacy of others is also critical where use of the vast information on the world wide web is involved. (Hofer) It will be assumed for this action research proposal internet accessibility and acceptable bandwidths are available in all schools in Denison I.S.D.
Specialized educational technology graduate degree programs are now available from many accredited universities testifying to the dynamic growth and the importance of efficient technology use in the educational field. The broader question then is raised “How do we (I) efficiently use this technology to positively impact our learners in the best and most efficient way possible?” With this thought to the forefront it is no wonder that entrepreneurial computer programmers and game developers have found a way to produce products that attempt to speak to the needs of:
• Schools and their need to stay on the cutting edge of technology
• Teachers who are always searching creatively for a better way (24 hr access-grades automatically sent to parent)
• Administrators (constantly under pressure to raise test scores) who like the fact that it exemplifies total effort from the district to do “whatever it takes within reason” to get the job done.
• Students (many who are computer gaming savvy) who struggle with engagement in traditional study methods.
• Parents who by and large want to give their children the best chance possible for success.
This is exactly what the developers of Study Island have done.

• Purpose
Standardized assessments are a huge part of our educational system. Whether we like the idea or not, the practice of using standardized tests as instruments for teacher accountability and enhancing the learning environment is a reality we all must embrace in our current system. In Texas the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is the standardized test all students must prove proficiency in (according to State of Texas set standards) before they are rewarded with their high school diploma. The state of Texas reports these numbers each year and they are used to rate all state funded schools as academically unacceptable, academically acceptable, or recognized. Denison Independent School District like most all school districts in Texas gives great effort and is critically concerned about the achievement of all students especially pertaining to the TAKS tests. It was proposed to Denison Independent School District administrators that a program called Study Island was reaping rewards in local Dallas Fort Worth metroplex area. One teacher in our social studies department had high praises for the Study Island product as it was utilized by her previously while working in another district. Subsequently Study Island was introduced and their marketing and sales representatives made the Denison Independent School District a client on an interim basis agreement. If the product was acceptable the school district would purchase the product. The social studies department of the Denison High School was chosen first to try the product on this trial agreement. Improving learning and TAKS scores combined with the need to justify spending on this potential third party purchased product motivated the need for this proposal

• Literature Review
In looking at the vast technological field of educational games and online learning it was exciting to see so much available research. Prior research has proven that 3D online computer games in the area of geography have proven successful in 4th and 5th grade students. (Tuzun, Soylu, Karakus, Inal, & Kizilkaya, 2009) Students in this study also reinforced the use of collaboration and motivation concerning learning geography with 3D computer games. (Tuzun et al.)
Newer models of technology learning have also been identified. (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006) Generations of technology education were broken down by Connolly and Stansfield as follows:
• Generation 1 – Limited use of the internet. (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006)
• Generation 2 – Provide immediate feedback and assessment and create Virtual Learning Environments. (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006)
• Generation 3- Collaborative, reflective, real life like simulation experiences. (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006)
Other research has pointed to the fact that online learning and motivation is linked to the learner enjoyment of the game itself. (Fu, Su, & Yu, 2009) The authors’ of E Game Flow: A scale to measure learner’s enjoyment of e-learning games state “since enjoyment motivates the continuation of work and study, whether or not the player experiences enjoyment or flow should be seen as a key criterion in determining a game’s effectiveness.” (Fu et al., p. 103) A review of literature also further supported the idea of student connectedness and collaboration. (Rhode, 2009)
• Research questions
This proposal intends to find out the following: Is Study Island effective in improving TAKS performace in 10th grade social studies learners in Denison Independent School District? If so, what are some best teacher practices in using this instrument for student success? Are their certain pitfall areas teachers need to look out for or avoid? What can we expect in the future from Study Island and similar programs designed to engage learners in a unique gaming environment while teaching them core content material?
• Sample
The population will be drawn from five 10th grade world history classes in Denison High School. These classes offer a variety of learners and it is important to point out that none of these classes are advanced placement or pre-advanced placement. The total sample population (S) will be 117 10th grade Denison High School World History Students. The sample (S) will be further identified by gender identifying 60 female and 57 male participants. The ethnic breakdown of the sample population is 12% African American, 9% Hispanic, and 79% Anglo.
• Data Collection Procedures/Instruments
The data will be gathered utilizing several different instruments. Students from the sample group (A) will have their TAKS social studies scores from the 8th grade and the 10th grade compared and analyzed with those of sample group (B) those students who did not receive Study Island practice and training. A survey will also be used utilizing a 5-point Likert scale. The single question survey will ask: Was Study Island beneficial in your TAKS preparation? Learners may then be further categorized or broken down into three categories:
1. Very little or not beneficial
2. Somewhat beneficial
3. Very beneficial
Quantitative data is available also from the Study Island product itself. Learner data will be broken down individually to check for correlation to the percentage of total questions answered correctly while engaged online in Study Island. Field notes from the researcher will also be analyzed as will recordings and notes of group discussions to be held in each class after the completion of the TAKS test.
• Data Analysis
The 8th grade and the 10th grade TAKS scores will be analyzed and compared between the two sample groups: Group A (learners who utilized the Study Island program) - will have their 8th grade TAKS social studies scores compared to their 10th grade TAKS social studies scores looking for a significant improvement in scores from Group B (learners who did not utilize the Study Island program). Qualitative data gathered from the field notes and the group discussions from each class will be compared, analyzed, and reflected upon to gain further insight from the research. Triangulation utilizing these different data sources and data from the pre and post TAKS score comparisons using the mean, median, and modes to further analyze data should provide valuable insight as to the effectiveness of Study Island.
• Limitations
Limitations in this proposed research include lack of a large and fully stratified sample. Other concerns would be availability of the internet at home for students in the sample population(S) or the use of other similar products or games by learners in the sample population (S) which might lead to misleading results.
• Action Plan
Information of the results will first be shared with the Denison High School Social Studies Department Head and the Curriculum Director. Proper steps to further collaboratively analyze the findings and suggest best practices for the intended use of Study Island or non-use of the Study Island product will then be enacted according to the Denison independent School District and Denison High School team suggestions.

• References
Connolly, T., & Stansfield, M. (2006). Using Games Based eLearning Technologies in Overcoming Difficulties in Teaching Information Systems. Journal of Information Technology Education, 5, 459-476.
Fu, F., Su, R., & Yu, S. (2009). E Game Flow: A scale to measure learner’s enjoyment of e-learning games. Computers and Education, 52, 101-112.
Hofer, M. (2004). Technology That Supports Rich, Student-Centered Learning Experiences. Learning and Leading with Technology, V. 32 n. 2, 6-11.
Rhode, J. F. (2009). Interaction Equivalency in Self- Paced Online Learning Environments: An Exploration of Learner Preferences. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, V. 10 n. 1, 1-23.
Tuzun, H., Soylu, M. Y., Karakus, T., Inal, Y., & Kizilkaya, G. (2009). The effects of computer games on primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning. Computers and Education, 52, 68-77.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Where can Technology take Football?

Scientific evidence for physical training and conditioning suggest that it is best to simulate the performance environment with gamelike conditions for best results. It seems that this is what we are to do as coaches to give our kids the best chance to succeed. Are we doing this now as a profession? What can we do as a profession to improve in this regard? Can technology help us to do this in a better way? I propose a great big YES to that last question.
We have all seen the professional and the college football players look up at the Jumbotron video replays to gain feedback to improve performance. More recently high school football venues allow for this same feedback opportunity. This got me to thinking a year or so back about something to possibly improve current football workout methods. My idea involves utilizing, combining and improving the use of the ever popular indoor workout facilities (controlled environmnt for great video sesions) and improved video technology specifically designed for coaching (now available to get fast and efficient feedback and play results for analysis ie. live capture). I truly believe we can combine or mesh the two together more seamlessly for a better workout. What? Change what we are doing now? Yes, I realize that many old habits die vey slowly and this holds true even in the world of coaching. In this regard I would like to quote Coach Chad Morriss of Lake Travis, Texas fame (he had just won his 2nd straight state championship there-Update alert- Coach Morriss is the newly hired offensive coordinator of the Clemson Tigers). In 2008 I heard coach Morris at the DFW coaches clinic (the prior year I heard his offensive wisdom at the Dallas Glazier Football Clinic) and he referenced the fact that the world is changing at a much faaster pace than it used to and how this impacts us all even coaches. He referred to people in the business world who must adapt rapidly oftentimes re-inventing themselves and their whole careers due to "revolutions " in the business world. He boldly stated that unless we are going to be left behind "we must change too." This is so true especially when it comes to teaching our student-athletes on the field. They process information much differently than they did even 4 or 5 years ago. With gaming technology improving it is more challenging to keep them engaged as learners in the classroom and on the practice field.Just check the following link about an action research project proposal I wrote about this to improve student learning utilizing gaming technology. We must change to teach them more effectively as they are conditioned and designed for more immediate feedback (video games again). This begs the question. How are we currently getting feedback to players using video?
Here I think it is best to take a look at how video technology has been been used in the past. I will just refer back to my own high school playing days in the early 80's. Typical of most schools we watched game film on Saturday mornings after the Friday night game. Our coaches pointed out the good and bad and we moved on with a better idea of what we needed to correct to improve our team for the next week game. We also analyzed our opponent on game films that were exchanged so we did not have to rely solely on scouting reports for information. Our head coach (Ronny Ray) was cutting edge purchasing a computer breakdown of oppenents tendencies from a service located in Plano, Texas.
The next breakthrough came with "video" technology allowing for more affordable and faster but oftentimes poor product. Some schools now attempted to utilize video better by using different angles (wide, tight, end zone). There has been differing degrees of success but there is no doubt that todays cameras and digital technology video systems (DSV,Hudl,etc.) with the ability to "live capture" for quicker feedback far exceed any prior methods. It is safe to say that very few staffs fully utilize the editing sytems available to them. It has become so specialized now that every staff has a "video guy". You know the guy on the coaching staff that is the "techie" who supervises the video crew. I will suggest here that all coaching staff members need to have some basic familiarities with your video editing system. The real point here is that we now have the technology to get immediate feedback to our players. So now we have all the pieces in place:
1. Indoor facility with adequate room providing for a consistent and great environment to video practice.
2. Video editing system with ability to gain instant feedback via live capture and a place to immediately show the video(Wall in the inddor).
3. Capable and trusted video crew.
How do I put these ingredients together to give our players the "immediate" feedback they so desire thusly improving learning and motivation during our workouts?
1. Design your practices(we could utilize this best during our "good vs. good" hull sessions. THis would be Tuesdays and Wednesdays and would include live pass hull and run hull sessions and at least one team session. The trick is organizing your workout (including transitions) to be more gamelike concerning reps and conditioning ( This actually allows for time between "drives"-5-7 plays mini-hulls to review the video just shot quickly projected on the wall of the practice facility. This also allows a brief teaching moment to reinforce good and bad and using the game-like tempo then go to next series or special teams-remember it is as gamelike as possible. This will also increase intensity and competition. THe trick will come in to customizing the modifications for the transitions which will have to be a very well thought out process due to various personnel who will move to perform their job during each phase whether offense/defense/kicking.
2. To increase the intensity have at least 1 coach be the official spotting the ball and whistling in time, etc. Defensive scouts can "tee up" and simulate movements and or blitzes (realistic look).
3. Fewer reps but greater intensity during these "mini-series hulls" will also allow for "scripting" plays into looks. Here is where the video feedback for great teaching is awesome. Take the time after each "series is over with to coach them up on technique, alignment and assignemnt.
4. Transitions- Transitions can be videoed just to grade body posture or reactions to something negative occuring on the field. Special teams transitions are huge too so remember to keep it gamelike go from a "hull series" to special teams segments and vice versa for best results.

Coaching Trips as a Staff..Really cool professional development opportunitues..

As a member of the football staff here at Denison I enjoy the opportunity to visit with other coaching staffs in a variety of ways. One obvious way is through various clinics like the THSCA clinic (see Staff Retreat) and a variety of others. Some of the best known to our staff that many of us have attended are the DFW coaches clinic, Glazier Clinics, Lone Star Coaching Clinic, and the FCA Coaching Clinic. A really nice way to learn as a staff is to find a college that will make time for your staff and help you with some new ideas, techniques, and or plays that will be beneficial. I have had the pleasure of visiting Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in the Spring of 2008 with the Denison offensive coaching staff. We spent three days with them right at the first of Spring Ball (no pads). This was great because we sat in meetings with players and heard their coaches reiterate many of the same basic things we tell our kids. It was also special as they were just finished winning their third straight NCAA College Division National Championship and had the historic victory over Michigan that year. We benefited greatly on this visit where we discovered the beauty of some old single wing power sweep rules (Truck Sweep) that still hold true today and meshed really well with soon to be secret weapon 175lb. center (obviously we knew he would be good at pulls). We also discovered we could put his athleticism to good use in reaching out to the weakside 1 and or 2 technique so as to stretch defenses more and utilize our more athletic linemen who were more capable of running and fitting than drive blocking and powering down on people off the ball. The idea of what to do with the nose shade in an even front is also handled very simply when you have athletic offensive lineman and like to get pull reads on your inside zone. Just have the backside guard step to "dig out" the shade and if he can not dig him out just "keep him on the board" washing him by. This means the defensive end (QB pull key) must really close fast. This also allows the backside tackle to "check step" the shade (just in case the shade or the MLB are on run through stunt his way and then he is "locked" (man blocks) the backside linebacker (we call this the #2). this will account for and "exchange stunts so you don't have the QB pulling the ball only to be met by and unblocked linebacker. If you want to help the inside zone out against 4-2 teams that like this exchange game try this. Make a "lock" call with the backside guard and tackle meaning they are both now "man" blocking. Everybody else from the center over is still zone blocking with 3 hats to fit 3 hats. Another great change up for this front is the midline zone. Backside guard and tackle block backside defensive end and #2 backer while everybody runs zone and the backside defensive lineman (preferrably a 3 tech) is turned loose and read by the QB. This can also be changed up once more with the backside guard and tackle "man" blocking while the zone read is the #2 linebacker.
We have also had the opportunity this past year to visit the Univesity of Texas. Two great days we had the free run of a meeting room and much of their "cut-ups" to learn their throwing game. Coaches Bobby Kennedy and Greg Davis made themselves very available to talk about routes and concepts. The "two man" game is what coach Davis is famous for going all the way back to his "option route" successes as offensive coordinator over fifteen years ago Tulane. Double out, spots, cube and in are all further concepts that we have benefited greatly from. We also simplified our play action some by going with the "naked" boot play. The Horns are happy to let Colt McCoy go 2 on 1 in space but we just could not see that being a good idea so we went with part of our old boot rules which tells the backside tackle to leave 1 guy. This does affect how much he can sell play action though. Coach Mack McWhorter shared with us too his offensive line drills and progressions. These were very good for us especiall the pass pro drills.
We opted in early 2010 to visit coach Brandon Faircloth at Port Neches Groves high school to learn about his use of the "Malzahn style" H-back in their offense and talk offensive philosophy. The trip was an excellent trip for learning and sharing ideas but unfortunately we were not able to utilize much of this package as we had hoped due to problems at our QB position. We were 4 deep at the QB position by mid season and in short we were just very bad at a position where you can not afford to be bad. On a positive note by year end our sophomore starter at the position showed some very good signs for the future. We just recently visited Bentonville High School in Arkansas. They fresh off of a 13-0 championship year. We went there to learn the pistol offense. They have close ties to the University of Arkansas where they hired former Nevada offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis to coach offensive line. The staff at Bentonville High under Barry Lunney decided to install the pistol for added run and pass balance. It sure did help the play action game too as the Bentonville Tigers used it to gain coach Lunney his seventh Arkansas State Championship. Coach Lunney junior is the offensive coordinator there. He shared some nice and simple passing game concepts with us too. The only drawback to the trip was getting snowed in for an extra day in Arkansas. Good thing the hotel had a swimming pool!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Great Christian perspective on pro football

This article is a few years old but relevant still to the question of coaches as responsible, ethical role models and leaders. Too often the leadership goes in the wrong direction. Here is a great article from 2008 by FATHER RAYMOND J. DE SOUZA (from the Catholic Education Resource Center) regarding the Super Bowl and the not so likely winners the New York Football Giants.
The football gods have spoken
Now think of yourself being a high school or even a college football coach truly wanting to challenge young men to become not only better players and teammmates but better people. It is definitely a challenging task especially with the aforementioned examples fron the pro players and coaches alike. One can only hope to use this possibly negative information as a good guide of what not to do and how not to be.


Greg Wright

M. Ed. Educational Leadership, Lamar University,
Beaumont, Texas. August, 2010. 3.91 GPA
BA History, Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX, 1987
Mid-Management Texas, August, 2010
Teacher Certificate 8-12 Social Studies, Texas
6-12 History, Texas
K-12 Physical Education, Texas
6-12 Driver Education, Texas
K-12 Health, Texas
30 Hours in Kinesiology and Education from Texas A @ M Commerce
39 Wins and 29 Losses the last six years as assistant football coaching offensive line at Arlington Seguin and Denison High Schools reaching the State Semifinals in the Fall of 2009 at Denison.

Administrative and Leadership Experience

B. Mc Daniel Middle School, Denison I.S.D.

  • Physical Education Coordinator
  • Emphasis on 6th graders learning team sports and leadership with correlation athletic skills development.
  •  Assistant varsity football coach. Offensive line. Tackles/tight ends/deep snappers.
  •  Assistant girls soccer coach and head junior varsity girls soccer coach.
  • World History Team Leader
Denison High School
Denison, TX
• Mentored new teacher to the World History Department and new coach on our coaching staff.
• Part of campus professional learning community success leading to first ever “Recognized” Texas Education Agency rating for Denison High School.
• Helped organize and plan the 1st Annual Denison Football Clinic.
• Evaluated Hudl sports video editing system. We were able to go to a server based video editing application that empowered our coaching staff and players to gain collaborative and learning feedback in a faster and more efficient way than previously available before for less money.
• Helped to implement the switch in practice and philosophy from common summative assessments to common formative assessments.
• Pre game football duties included getting to game site early to set up headset communication equipment insuring proper functioning during the game.

World History Team Leader
Denison High School
Denison, TX
2008-2009 School Year
Led collaborative team to determine best practices and guidelines for world history team meetings.
• Helped world history team collaboratively determine standards of our curriculum, course outline and determine test questions for common assessments.
• Helped world history team collaboratively analyze data from common assessments and determine and promote best practices depending upon findings.
• Successfully mentored a seasoned teacher teaching his first year in social studies.
• Attended the PLC (Professional Learning Community) Seminar in June 17-19, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. Preparing as a team to enhance and improve learning in Denison High School.
• Completed successful ILD training at Region 10 service center in Richardson, Tx.

Owner and General Manager
American Pride Homes
Fort Worth, TX

• Started up manufactured housing retail dealership. Carried six people on full time payroll and managed and trained 4 sales agents.
• Operated budget with monthly operating expenses of $24,000.
• Adapted quickly and successfully to poor market conditions cutting overhead and changing business plan to purchasing, rehabbing, and remarketing discounted foreclosed homes already set on land.

Athletic Director and Head Football Coach
Bosqueville I.S.D.
Bosqueville, TX

• Led fledgling program to compete in its first full season of 11 man football. Increased participation in football from 9 to 19 players (Numbers compare first day of football practice from prior year). We completed the season with 24 high school football players participating and eligible under UIL academic guidelines. Our team won 3 games including defeating the first ever public school opponent in the 11 man football history of the school and the first district game. We increased participation and excitement with enthusiasim and love for the game.
• Supervised all athletic contests many times as administrator on duty during basketball and baseball games.
• Contributed to designing and planning of new athletic facilities including a new football field with press box and bleachers and field house with weight room facilities.
• Supervised and led staff of five assistant coaches assigning their duties and responsibilities for each sport coached and other duties as assigned. Evaluated all coaching staff members recommending for hiring or rehiring.
• Supervised and maintained a budget that included all sports junior high and high school.

Teaching Experience

B. Mc Daniel Middle School, Denison I.S.D.
Physical Education Coordinator
  • 6th-8th Grade physical education teacher
  • Emphasis on 6th graders learning team sports and leadership with correlation athletic skills development.
  • Assistant varsity football coach.  Offensive line.  Tackles/tight ends/deep snappers.
  • Assistant girls soccer coach and head junior varsity girls soccer coach.

Denison High School
World History teacher and coach
Denison, TX

• World history teacher and assistant football coach.
• Specialized in offensive line primarily tackles/tight ends and deep snappers.
• Other coaching duties included power lifting and coached the boys and girls shot put and discus throwers.
• Coached regional qualifying shot-putter in 2008and regional qualifying shot-put and discus thrower in 2009.
• Helped develop two year 1st Team Associated Press All-State Center, Associated Press Honorable Mention All-State Tackle, and Honorable Mention Academic All-State Tight End.
• Helped to orchestrate the most explosive rushing offense in the state of Texas in class 4A averaging over 8.8 yards per play.

Seguin High School
Physical Education teacher and coach
Arlington, TX
• Served as physical education teacher, offensive line coach and junior varsity girls’ soccer coach.
• Specialized in centers, guards and deep snappers.
• Developed Academic All-State Football Team 1st Team Center and two other All-District performers.

Cassata High School
Social Studies teacher
Fort Worth, TX
Spring Semester 2006
• Picked up teaching contract and successfully finished the school year creating a positive working and learning environment in the social studies classroom.
• Taught and helped develop social studies curriculum of government, American history, world history, geography, economics, and sociology in a self-paced learning environment.
• Managed a grant funded school improvement work project to enhance school safety and appearance.
• Worked successfully in my first real exposure to a truly collaborative learning environment and community.

Green B. Trimble Technical High School
World History teacher and coach
Fort Worth, TX
• Taught world history in a diverse urban magnet school.
• Coached football and track and field.
• Coached Nike world class 800 meter runner Khadevis Robinson.
• Track and field team finished 4th in the 1994 Texas state track meet.

Joshua High School
History teacher and coach
Joshua, TX
• Taught world history and American History at Joshua High School.
• Supervised school detention center for 1 period each day.
• Served as Head Freshman Football coach and freshman Athletic Coordinator.
• Arranged transportation and budgeted for all freshman athletics.
• Served also as head freshman baseball coach.
• Inherited a group of freshman football student athletes who had not before won a game in their previous two years of competition. This group responded positively by competing well en route to a 3-7 record.

Cisco Junior College
Health and Fitness Center Manager
Physical Education Teacher
Dorm Supervisor and Football Coach
Cisco, TX
• Served as campus Health and Fitness Center Director and part-time instructor in physical education teaching bowling.
• Assistant football coach specializing in offensive line.
• Coached on offense that averaged over 440 yards per game two years in a row ranking in the top 5 nationally in community college football.
• Served as dorm director supervising students in campus housing and regularly attending and leading student campus activities.

Clarksville Independent School District
History Teacher and Coach
Clarksville, TX
• Taught American and Texas history at Clarksville Junior High School.
• Coached varsity boys’ football team as defensive line coach.
• Helped coach a team to their first district championship in 20 years.
• Helped develop defensive game plan to defeat a previously undefeated (10-0) Mount Vernon team.
• Served as junior varsity defensive coordinator helping them to earn a district championship.
• Served as junior high girls’ basketball, volleyball and track coach and high school boys throwers coach qualifying an athlete in both the shot put and discus throw for regional competition.

References available upon request

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inspiring Story..Fortitude and Perseverance Baby! Texas Community is able to keep coach and is rewarded!

No coach is foolish enough to think that there will not be adversity and conflicts to overcome on the job but this guy's willingness to hang in there with a few of his "believers" to remain on the job is rewarded with a state championship. No easy feat anywhere especially in Texas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reflections In Blogging: or What did I really learn in this Class?

Looking back I truly had no idea of what to really expect from this course. Things have been different than I envisioned. The outcomes wound up involving a much more hands on approach to technology tools. These include some awesome readings and videos that help us see where we are headed and how we must fit technology into the big picture. I now see technology more clearly as a cornerstone that unlocks the door to learning for children. Children who are digital "natives" who are learning who are learning much differently than ever before. I believe the outcomes of this class are more satisfying than I ever could have dreamed. The combination of hands on practical use and the broad overview of technology issues explained more clearly in the video and the readings have been invaluable for me as a future campus leader.
I expected a much more cerebral outlook on technology with not as much practical hands on work. The staff members at my school know now that Coach Wright has a blog! I am quite proud of this accomplishment. I never really truly envisioned this.
The outcomes of this class clearly speak to the relevance of technology and how and where it fits into the vision of NCLB. A better awareness of technology needs have been addressed in the StarChart and also by looking at national technology standards. This course and its outcomes speak to our campus as a developing PLC. I can utilize this knowledge to help our subject area teams collaborate developing shared knowledge database to enhance student learning in a number of ways. The issue of staff development is also key. Just listen to the quote from curriculum coordinator Shonda Canon at Denison High School "One big professional development push for our district this summer is going to be the integration of SMART Board lessons/games into our curriculum. It is one thing that we have been given the grant money to buy them, but another thing altogether to integrate/use them in the most effective manners!"
We are all about student learning as a PLC. To accomplish this task we must follow the guidelines and directives from NCLB for accountability to improve learning. In this regard we are making great progress. Many of our faculty members are learning how to use technology and data to help the learning process. We share information at a very rapid pace as part of our daily routine. We are forming the successful habits of collaboration and technology is a huge part of it. Digital immigrants are learning from digital natives with the use of Smart Boards and other great technology tools to reach more students and give added breadth and depth to learning in the classroom. This is also leading to new strategies shared in our team meetings.
I still feel somewhat awed by how much NCLB has impacted technology in the classroom. In looking at the great deal of information available in this course it is somewhat hard to completely digest. It seems you just have to "do it." That is to take an active part in the process of utilizing technology more efficiently. In this regard class has been an awesome success. I am still trying to grasp the big picture though.
I am not completely sure why I am still struggling with the big picture. Most likely because much of the information and suggestions mentioned in this course are new. I learned that I personally like moving toward technology use but am somewhat leery of the change in school policies regarding technological devices. I adapted well to learning how to blog. I find it almost like a journal or diary. I am excited because I see how useful it can be to share knowledge. It can also be bad in that some people may use this knowledge in a negative way. As a school leader I must make sure to keep children safe by keeping the blog network as safe as possible to use. I also must educate all users in proper ethics. This must truly be done by all teachers and reinforced by all staff and stakeholders. It is too important an issue to not promote at the forefront of all technology discussions and lessons. I also have some concerns regarding the motives of others and how or what they might do with the knowledge of some information or picture(s) disclosed on the internet. What about my responsibility too as far as protecting the school district? I do not want myself and or the district to be held liable because someone shared some information on a school related or sponsored blog or Wiki.
Blogs can be a very valuable tool in education. A blog may be used to share information with school and community stakeholders. What an awesome way to promote the school campus. We could even link blogs together in our school community. This is a great way to communicate positively to students and parents too. Individual classes and teachers can have their own blogs where information can be shared. It could also be very valuable in developing an identity and esprit d├ęcors in extracurricular activity groups.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Technology Action Plan

Part 1: Development of Organizational Chart Integrating Technology

The Action Plan was designed and developed from interviews conducted with Mr. James Spivey Assistant Technology Director of Denison I.S. D. and Shonda Cannon Curriculum coordinator at Denison High School.

Superintendent, Dr. Henry Scott– To lead, guide, and direct every member of the administrative, instructional, and support services teams in setting and achieving the highest standards of excellence in educational programs and operating systems.
Technology Coordinator, Mr. Dickie Deel- To lead, guide, and direct every member of the administrative, instructional, and support services teams in setting and achieving the highest standards of excellence in educational programs and operating systems.
Director of Instruction, Ms. Jeri Bone- To help improve the technology implementation and training to provide access for teachers and students to information, procedures, and tools that improve learning and administrative management.
Assistant Director of Technology- Mr. James Spivey - provides technology support for curriculum areas through implementation of technology TEKS and support of staff as they integrate technology into instruction. Mr. Spivey is also hands on in relations with staff and helps as needed when technical emergencies arise at Denison High School.
Technology Assistants, - There are three of these individuals that help in a variety of ways. These ways include but are not limited to installation, maintenance, and support of the district's computing systems, networks, and data communications technologies, including hardware and software.
LRC Technology Coordinators- Each campus has a Learning Resource Center which includes computers specifically designed for research and learning (library). Each Learning Resource Center director also serves the important role of scheduling the proper use of computers.
Classroom Teachers – Implement technology TEKS and support students as they integrate technology into the learning process. This includes demonstration of proper ethical use of computers.
Campus Principal- Each Campus Principal must make sure that learning is taking place in the most effective way. This means the technology plan must be followed. Collaboration in teacher team meetings to emphasize proper use of these technology tools is imperative for the campus leader. It may be necessary at times for the principal to reinforce the use of technology by his own modeling and full utilizing technology resources in his own staff development when he or she has center stage. Show the world you can teach and old dog new tricks.

Part two: Professional Development Planning:

Denison Independent School District is committed to developing, facilitating, and providing different models of professional development. In my discussion with high school curriculum coordinator Shonda Canon she stated “One big professional development push for our district this summer is going to be the integration of SmartBoard lessons and games into our curriculum. It is one thing that we have been given the grant money to buy them, but another thing altogether to integrate and use them in the most effective manners!” A combination of on-line “just-in-time” resource and the peer teaching model will be implemented to guide the staff in integrating technology into all facets of teaching and learning, management and planning.
Every classroom in our district has at least 1computer, and a ceiling mounted projector. Many classrooms also have a SmartBoard (95% by school year end) and a document camera. Each of these tools delivers instruction. Teachers use these tools to enrich instruction by integrating Discovery Education United Streaming videos, educational websites, Smartboard on-line interactive lessons, PLC team lessons from our group district and school shared and group drives. Interactive lessons that speak to specific content to reinforce the main ideas and concepts in a variety of ways are like gold nuggets for our staff to help improve and differentiate learning in the classroom. Student computers and lab computers are also used to deliver individual instruction. These are found mostly on the Learning Resource Center and our own computer labs. Teachers can schedule time for their whole classes as needed for their students. We are a PLC and we realize that shared knowledge and experiences equal the power to improve learning. We value highly our shared knowledge bases and it is exciting to see them grow as teacher exchange and implement these new ideas to help learning in their classrooms. We have integrated Smartboard technology in classrooms of deemed highest needs (Math and Science) but soon will have Smartboards in over 95% of our classrooms. The Smartboards are still being installed and most rooms at the high school have an active SmartBoard. These technology tools were installed before many teachers were fully trained on how to use them. I was fortunate enough last Spring to attend the first introductory SmartBoard training on our campus. Over the last few months we have had several professional development trainings(mainly in our PLC subject area team groups) for staff to become more advanced with the use and integration of technology lessons using the new equipment and to ask questions that have arose over the use of the Smartboards. Our staff is continually working together to discover new uses and websites found available to enhance the use of this technology.

Part 3: Planning for Action

The Technology Action Plan at Denison ISD will be assessed by a systematic ongoing process. All aspects of the plan will be evaluated formally four times each year:
September………………………………..2009, 2010, 2011 December………………………………...2009, 2010, 2011 March…………………………………….2010, 2011, 2012 June………………………………………2010, 2011, 2012
A subcommittee of the technology committee will be responsible for the ongoing evaluation and will utilize whatever resources deemed necessary in the process. The type of evaluation, and the detail, will depend on the part of the plan being evaluated. The intention of the evaluation will be to make decisions on the impact that technology has on the learning process for all students. A report will be given to the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees after each formal evaluation occurs.
The Texas STaR Chart, has been developed around the four key areas of the Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology, 1996-1210: Teaching and Learning, Educator Preparation and Development, Administration and Support Services, and Infrastructure for Technology. The Denison ISD’s STaR Chart results will be used to help Denison ISD assess its progress toward meeting the goals of the Long Range Plan for Technology. The STaR chart will also be used to compare Denison ISD’s results with other Texas districts. By using the STaR chart as a monitoring tool, Denison ISD will be able to accurately assess technical growth on an annual basis.
Our subject area teacher teams will be the main impetus of feedback to determine success of our technology plan and growth in the area of teacher professional development. In our PLC team meetings there is most always an administrator (either assistant principal, principal, curriculum coordinator) to help act as liaison and provide necessary input to each meeting. If it is deemed necessary the campus principal can monitor staff by using walk-through, lesson plans and PDAS evaluations to check and recheck on the implementation and uses of new technology. This will allow administrators to make sure the district and campus improvement plans are being met by implementing and utilizing the Smartboard technology in the classrooms to increase student learning by the addition of new hands-on technology. Student assessments will also be used to determine the affects of the new technology and the benefits gained from the implementation. Benchmark assessment will be given throughout the year, at least one assessment per six weeks, to determine the areas and levels of improvement in student learning.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Texas Long Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020: Teaching and Learning:MY OPINION

Ok you asked for it so you got it! The Texas LRPT is really just an extension at the state level of NCLB. Many very good things have come from NCLB. What has impacted education the most is the constant emphasis on the use research-based strategies to improve academic achievement. This is really just a good sound idea.
Here is a bit for you from the Texas LRPT as it pertains to teaching and learning.
All learners:
• have access to relevant technologies, tools, resources and services for individualized instruction 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
• use information and communication technologies to collaborate, construct knowledge and provide solutions to real-world problems and situations that are encountered.
• use research-based strategies in all subject areas to improve academic achievement.
• communicate effectively in a variety of formats for diverse audiences
Once again I emphasize a very solid approach that has its own "elastic clause" for flexibility focusing on "best practices". We all know that this has inspired much research and I think created a new and challenging trend for teachers and learners to grow more in the classroom by allowing themselves to get a little out of their comfort zone in the name of teaching and learning.
I would like to cite my own small yet significant progress as a classroom teacher since I have learned to harness a bit of technology. Daily I utilize a large overhead projector and a computer that allows me to supplement lectures with short yet relevant streaming videos that reinforce learning. I also regularly access interactive games on the overhead for the class to play. Games in which they learn not only history but the history they need to know ("power standards"). PowerPoint’s are also now utilized and more easily customized by yours truly in a way I never imagined a few short years ago. Does it help? Yes, of course it does. It allows me a variety of ways to get across many key concepts and ideas that spiral through the curriculum. Presently I am waiting for my new Smart board to get mounted in my classroom. I can't wait to fully harness the power of this tool. It is not an end all but an excellent tool to enhance learning that utilizes that vast amount of educator resource on the internet. It is also a great way to share new ideas with colleagues by saying things like "hey, check this interactive lesson out we did on the smartboard today".

What is a spiraling curriculum?

In one of our first social studies team meetings at my current high school where I am gainfully employed as a teacher I remember(3 years ago) our curriculum director talking to us all about spiraling items in our curriculum. I have to admit I was a bit lost but after asking I quickly caught on. We were concerned about making sure we were all teaching the most essential and necessary items (our self proclaimed "power standards") in our classrooms with consistency and we were also developing common assessments to help know how we were doing in this regard. It was aobvious looking at the TEKS that certain themes just carried over from 8th grade U.S. History to High School World History. Themes of revolutions and the history of freedom and democracy are jsut a few examples that "spiral" throughout the currriculum. We simply tried to find more capable ways to help learners understand these concepts sharing and utilizing a variety of methods. It has been quite successful.
The TEKS for technology applications spiral in much the same way. In elementary school student slearn to "start and exit programs as well as create, name, and save files" while in middle school the goal is to "demonstrate knowledge and appropriate use of operating systems, software applications, and communication and networking components". The high school foundations TEK for technology is worded exactly as the previous sentence. Got the idea? The bibg picture is the big picture but for most of us to get it we really have to view it in a variety of ways and over differing periods of time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pre-K Technology Applications TEKS

In summarizing the Pre-K Technology Applications TEKS for Kindergarten I thought I would paste in a few of my personal highlights.

1."Families are a child’s first and most important teachers. They represent perhaps the single most influential factor in their children’s development. While curricula, educators, and early care settings all contribute significantly to children’s learning and development, the fact remains that prekindergarten programs cannotafford to overlook the important impact that families have on their children."-REVISED TEXAS PREKINDERGARTEN GUIDELINES TEKS 2008.
Wow! This is great that it is posted right up front on the TEKS for Pre-K Technology in the introduction. If you wish to see further detail check the link here at
As a Secondary educator it is often too easy to forget the crucial developmental stages everyone goes through. Some of us are lucky to have good parenting and family or guardian support others not so much.
2."Teachers individualize instruction to facilitate children’s developmental progress."-Pre-K TEKS for Kindergarten 2008.
This sounds very familiar to me. I bet it does to you too!
3. Gradual Release Model
1. Teacher models, demonstrates
and thinks out loud.
Child watches.
2. Teacher does task.
Child helps.
3. Child does task.
Teacher helps.
4. Child completes task
Teacher watches.
(Pearson and Gallagher, 1983)-Pre-K TEKS for Kindergarten 2008.
The above model is a beautiful common sense approach to how we learn. Is it not?
4. Some more tips that sound familair in my PLC training. Keep in mind to get this done we have to manage those precious variables TIME-LEARNING if done properly it equals SUCCESS! Nobody said it was easy though. Flexible and creative scheduling and tutorial and enrichment times can do wonders though!
• Provides the teacher the opportunity to individualize instruction and meet special needs.
Small groups:
• Allows children more opportunity for talking,
• Provides the teacher opportunity for scaffolding, and
• Encourages hands‐on activities and child discovery.
Large groups:
• Build a sense of community, and
• Set the stage for the introduction of themes, information about new concepts, and review.

Long Range Plan for Technology

In reading the Texas long range plan for technology I became much more aware of the necessary vision needed to keep educational technology on the cutting edge in the state of Texas.
I was of course somewhat aware of NCLB but the impact and necessary alignment of the National Educational Technology Plan and the Texas LRPT(long range plan for technology) but did not fathom the depths of planning and specific needs assessments that would be necessary to pull off a plan so all encompassing as technology in education. Timelines and plans for funding and leadership are all specifically adddressed. Instructional leaders need the overview of the technology plan and how it aligns to make their own schools are up to standards and on proper timelines. Educating community stakeholders of it's signifigance is also vital for succes.

Technology Assessments

I can see more clearly now how these different technology assessment instruments can be very useful inimproving our use of technology in education. Obviously you must first know where you stand before you can know where you are going. Each instrument provides a unique look into where the state of technology and it's proper use depending on whether one is a teacher, administrator or technology director. I can clearly see how these intruments may be very useful if used properly. One obvious use is to determine where proper training and expertise is needed in your building and or on your staff. This information may also guide administrators to specify needs to third party trainers.
My own responses made me think and realize still how much I don't know. THiugh i considerate myself computer literate there is a world of benefits i am missing by not utilizing all of the tools available to me as an educator. This leads me to reflect"If I can't do it..What makes me think that my future staff will do it" (utilize technology to it's fullest). I can definitely improve here. Whether a technology leader or a principal modeling technology proficiently is highly valuable and more and more a necessity.
I am convinced that assessments like these are valuable tools but am still somewhat unconvinced of their validity. This concern is mainly due to lengthiness of the instrument. It would be great if something simpler was available. I just think many teachers will rush through the survey putting down what he/she thinks they should instead of thinking it through. I guess the teacher StarChart does somthing similar yet less time consuming. On a more positive note it is obvious that districts trying to make sound data based decisions can use these instruments in a variety a ways to improve learning in the school house and that is what it is all about!