Archives For iste

The HITS are ready

21 Apr 2005

I’m happy to announce that the Hopkins Information Technology Standards for Students (HITS) are now available for all the world to see on the Web under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. These standards are the product of many talented Hopkins educators. From the HITS Web page:

The Hopkins Instructional Technology Standards (HITS) were developed by the Hopkins School District to define a set of technology skill expectations for all K–6 students. The HITS were developed and refined by many Hopkins educators over a number of years and reflect the Hopkins curriculum, portions of ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S), and the technology integration work that has been done in Hopkins over the past few years.

Each grade level standard includes a description of the skills and a checklist. Items from the HITS appear on student report cards and are assessed on a completed/not completed basis. Work on standards beyond the 6th grade are underway and will be included here once they are completed and approved.

The bulk of the standards were developed before I started working in Hopkins, but it’s been my pleasure to help with some refinements. I’m especially glad that our district’s leadership has decided to make this work available to all under Creative Commons licensing. Although it’s not required by the license, I’d love to hear from anyone who finds these standards useful enough to incorporate into their own district’s work.

I’m in Rochester today and tomorrow working as a mentor with teams of technology leaders from school districts here in southeast Minnesota. According to the ISTE Institute Web site, I’m an “expert mentor” who will be helping the teams put the NETS to work in their schools. The participants will be planning action research projects that will be completed between now and July when we will all reconvene. It’s always fun to work with people who are passionate about teaching, learning, and technology.

This session is presented by my colleague Jon Berry who, in cooperation with our district’s staff development and mentorship coordinator, Debbie Ondov, developed a set of technology standards for our district’s non-tenured teachers. They combined Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for effective teaching and ISTE’s NETS-T standards.

The Danielson framework has four domains and 22 individual measures, but doesn’t include a technology or equity component. A couple years ago, a discussion began to add these missing pieces to our evaluation system. A 5th equity domain was created and technology measures were added to all five domains. The other influential document in this process was the Hopkins Instructional Technology Standards (HITS) which defines technology skills in grades K-6 and was drawn in part from the NETS-S.

Lots of questions about the HITS. These standards were built by media specialists and teachers to reflect the NETS and the existing Hopkins curriculum. These standards show up on students’ report cards which helps emphasize their importance.

Some of our next steps include expanding the technology standards to the tenured staff.

I’ve been meaning to put in a plug for TeacherHosting.com since getting back from NECC. I get questions occasionally from teachers who want to know how to get started with blogs, and I’ve usually recommended Typepad. That’s a great system, but TeacherHosting.com has even better prices for an unlimited number of weblogs. You can add Moodle hosting too, and the price is still very reasonable. An added benefit is that Thor Prichard, CEO of the outfit, is a cool guy who coordinated the blogging project at NECC.

GIS data sources

3 Jul 2004

I’ve continued reading up on GIS and its potential educational uses. I’ve called around to all of the cities that the Hopkins School District serves and even Hennepin County to ask about getting access to their GIS data. All of the people I talked to seemed intrigued that the idea of using GIS in schools. I suspect I’ll get something from them.

The other big discovery was the Minnesota DNR’s Data Deli, an great source of map data for Minnesota. I downloaded some maps and loaded them up in the free copy of ESRI’s ArcExplorer software that I picked up at NECC. Everything seemed to work well. Now I need to arrange an introductory session for our social studies teachers.

Moodle meeting

24 Jun 2004

I got together with Pete Misner Wednesday afternoon at Starbucks and talked about Moodle for a while. Pete gave a workshop earlier in the week where he demonstrated and taught the participants how to use Moodle and manage courses. Once again, it was great to be able to meet someone face to face that you might only interact with digitally 99.9% of the time. Pete described a bit about how his school used Moodle to manage a senior project course. It sounds like things went well enough that he’s going to expand by quite a bit next year.

We’ve developed some online teaching expertise over the past few years of the Hopkins Online Academy (now part of Northern Star Online) and I hope that some of that expertise can now be leveraged to bring some online learning elements to our regular courses. If nothing else, Moodle is a great way to host online, threaded discussions, collect digital assignments, communicate hyperlinks, and all kinds of other collaborative work for individuals or groups. I’m trying to figure out how I can use a Moodle course to facilitate communication and collaboration among the teachers involved in our 1:1 project.

We talked a little about the need for an individual space for each Moodle user. Blogging, for example, would be a little difficult unless each student (or teacher) were to blog within each individual course. That might be fine for certain types of activities, but I might prefer that students maintain a single blog so that their online writing could be found in one place. I think that would promote continuity and would certainly make blog maintenance a lot easier. If Moodle had that feature, I could consolidate our weblogs, wikis, and online forums into one system that would have a single sign-on and outstanding external authentication. The savings in management time would be significant.

I think it’s time to buy a good PHP book and start Moodle-hacking.

Digital Portfolios

23 Jun 2004

I’ve been interested in portfolio assessment for a while so this session was a natural for me. The presenter, Brian McLaughlin, is a teacher who has been using digital portfolios with his students. He gave some background about digital portfolios, talked about why to use them, and listed some key items to include.

The portfolio assessment guru is Dr. Helen Barrett, and most of Brian’s specific suggestions can be found in her work. A couple key points: include a variety of materials and not just the very best stuff, talk with students about good information design principles, and include examples of drafts and outlines.

I need to read more of Barrett’s work. With our new 1:1 computing initiative, digital portfolios make too much sense to ignore.

The flight was on time, uneventful, and I arrived for my first workshop session with five minutes to spare. Not bad.

The first session was called CARET: Research-based Decision Making for Educational Technology and was presented by Talbot Bielefeldt from ISTE and Ruthmary and John Cradler from ESS. Their project, CARET, was funded initially by a Gates Foundation grant, but has now finished the three years of funding from Gates and they are continuing their work with funding from ISTE. The purpose of the CARET project is to provide easy access to research-based information about technology to support teaching and learning and to help teachers locate technology-based instructional strategies that are supported by research (as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act).

The presenters talked about the CARET project’s history and goals and then did a live demo of the CARET Web site. This was the first I’d seen of CARET, and I was very impressed. There is a lot of high-quality information available on the site. I know it will save me a lot of time because their staff has done a lot of the work of finding a summarizing the highest-quality articles on a variety of topics of interest to those, like me, who are supposed to figure out how to make using technology an effective teaching and learning tool. The CARET site has detailed research summaries, article reviews, and some Q&A sections. This is definitely something I’ll be bookmarking and checking regularly. I don’t think it’s anything that I couldn’t find by searching ERIC, but using CARET will save me hours of time.

Several other resources were also mentioned: CLRN, TICAL, the State Educational Technology Directors Association, and the What Works Clearinghouse. I haven’t had a chance to look these over, but I will see what’s there and report here if I find anything interesting.

On a side note, the weather here was overcast and positively tropical. The dew point was easily in the mid 70s. That’s not exactly unusual in Minnesota, but we haven’t had anything like that yet this year. Carlyn and I worked up a good sweat just walking around Bourbon, Canal, and Decatur streets tonight. We ate at Deanie’s and I had the Crab Quartet. It was pretty good, especially since I hadn’t really eaten all day. I’m glad our hotel isn’t right on Bourbon street. We’re several blocks away and can hear it well enough from here!