Saturday, May 30, 2009

Michigan Discovery Educator Network Geocaching Day



The Michigan DEN had two teams: one in Commerce and the other in Battle Creek/Kalamazoo.  The Commerce team had a blast!  We found 5 caches and hiked some beautiful trails in Proud Lake Recreation Area.  We saw snakes, spiders, frogs, herons, and of course lots of mosquitos.  We nearly lost a couple of teachers who wandered off on a wild GPS chase, but found them before too long.  Several of the team were newbies, and now I think they are hooked.  It was a fun day of networking, learning together, with great exercise for all.  Our travel bug has been planted and we hope it travels very  soon!  Thanks you DEN!  Learn more about geocaching at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MACUL Grant Opportunity

Michigan educators:  Do you have a  great idea for a cool project involving technology in your classroom? Apply for a 2009-2010 MACUL Grant!  Grants are awarded for up to $1500 towards a project that will help benefit the students in your classroom/school.  The deadline is June 27th, 2009, so do it NOW!

All of the details are on this page of the MACUL website.  Links to the scoring rubric, the official time line, and the application form can be found there. You must be a MACUL member in order to apply for this opportunity; thankfully, you can renew your membership, or join for the first time right here!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Technology Classes or Technology in Math, Science, SS, and English LA Classes?

I was at a meeting on Friday with other technology leaders from several other school districts.  We were sharing summaries of how each of our districts integrate technology into the curriculum.  The majority teach computer skills in computer classes.  The integrated approach was only being done by a few districts.

My district did away with computer classes this past school year, with the exception of a few advanced classes at the high school level (programming, network management, etc).   Our philosophy is that computer skills should be taught at the same time as subject matter content.  All teachers have responsibilities to incorporate technology into the teaching and learning process.  We were not able to change to this delivery system overnight; it required lots of advanced planning.  Technology had to be readily available (and be in good working order), and both administrative and instructional support had to be in place.  Our Superintendent has always understandood the importance of technology, and this is evident in the decisions he makes.  We have a full time computer resource teacher and a full time media specialist at all of our middle and high schools.  Each elementary school has a teacher that fulfills the role of both computer resource teacher and media specialist.  Therefore, building level technology support is in place.  Laptop computers are abundant in all of our schools, some of which are student-owned (for our middle school 1:1 program) and some are on rolling carts that teachers share.  We have a local technology conference at the start of each school year, and most presenters are our own teachers sharing how they use technology as a teaching and learning tool.  I cannot say that our delivery system is perfect or that it is easy.  However, I firmly believe that teaching computer skills in the context of learning is the way to go. 

You cannot learn to golf by only practicing on the driving range.  You can work on your swing, but you can't work on a strategy for hitting the ball from behind a tree, or from the sand trap.  If you want to learn to play golf, you must play golf, and you must play it on a regular basis.  It can be frustrating when you whack the ball into the trees, or when you miss a putt because the slope of the green causes it to roll farther away than when you started; but you must keep playing.

Am I saying that I am against computer classes?  No.  However, I am against them if the teachers feel they don't need to offer students in their classroom opportunities to learn new content with technology because the computer teachers do that.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Geocaching Anyone?

On May 30, 2009 the DEN will host the first-ever DEN Geocaching Day!  Question for Michigan teachers... If I volunteer to be the guide for an event in SE Michigan, would you be interested in participating?  If so, leave me a comment on the MI DEN blog.  If we get a small group of people who want to get together, we could meet in Proud Lake State Park or Highland Recreation Area. It would be fun!

For muggles (non-geocachers) and pros alike, STAR Discovery Educators Bridget Belardi and Conni Mulligan will host a “Geocaching 101″ webinar to get us ready.  The webinar will answer the basic questions of “What is geoaching?” and “How do I get started?”  as well as emphasize the curricular connections of geocaching.

The webinar will be offered three times:

  • Wednesday, May 6, 7pm
  • Wednesday, May 13, 7pm
  • Wednesday, May 27, 7pm

Register for one of the sessions today.