Monday, December 31, 2007

Stay Current with NYSED and RSS

Lately, I've been feeling out of the loop with regards to what's new in education. So I started surfing the web for what's happening around the state and country. During my travels, I discovered that I could subscribe to both NYSED and news feeds using my aggregator, Google Reader.

To add the rss feeds to your aggregator you can visit the websites below and click the rss/xml links or you can copy and paste the .xml links into your aggregator.

NYSED RSS News Feed Directions
News from NYSED:
News from the Office of the Professions:
News from the New York State Library: RSS News Feed Directions News Feed - XML

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Judging is OPEN!

Elaine Plybon, blog coordinator for the Texas DEN Leadership Council, needs YOU! The Irving Independent School District in Irving, Texas, for which she works, has an annual Technology Media Fair. This year, the district has opened up several categories for online judging. The hope, above all, is that this will help keep district students excited about technology and about sharing their work with a global audience. This is where you come in. The contest is in need of judges. Anyone who has an interest in technology in education is qualified to be a judge. All the projects can be judged from now until January 7, 2008. There are six categories and levels from K through 12th grade. Anyone who chooses to judge can judge as many or as few entries as they would like. Would you consider helping with this cause? You can do so by judging, obviously, but also by sharing the word with other education professionals through your own blogs, twitters, feeds, and other social networking venues. The district would love to see judging from all over the world, so let’s get this DEN machine rolling!

To judge the projects, go to and click on the judging link. When judging, please include your name and email address. Your email address will not be published. It will be used for security only. Please expect an email from the administrative staff confirming that the address listed next to your name is a valid email address.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Support Higher Education Opportunities For Students With Learning Disabilities

Did you know that there has been a consistent increase in students with learning disabilities applying to postsecondary education in the past two decades?

Students with learning disabilities deserve the opportunity to be successful in college. However, there is a shortage of special education teachers and faculty on the college level. General education college teachers and professors also require training in learning how to differentiate instruction for students with learning disabilities.

Visit the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) Legislative Action Center to learn more about how you can help support the passage of the current draft of the Higher Education Act bill.

FYI - I just sent this letter to my local representative.

Dear Local Representative,

I am writing to urge you to support the current draft of the Higher
Education Act of 1965 (HEA) reauthorization bill and to encourage you
to vote for the bill when it comes to the floor for final vote.

I strongly support the provisions that enhance opportunities for
students with learning disabilities in their pursuit of postsecondary

I am encouraged and pleased to see that the current draft bill
includes many significant new provisions to enhance access to higher
education for students with disabilities, to address the shortage of
special education teachers and faculty and to improve the skills of
general education teachers in differentiating instruction for students
with disabilities.

In addition, I applaud the data-driven provisions you have included in
the bill that respond to the needs of students with disabilities to
ensure they have every opportunity to make a successful transition
into the adult phase of their lives.

With research-based differentiated instruction and qualified,
supported teachers, students with disabilities will receive the same
access and success as their peers.

Please support the current draft of the HEA reauthorization bill and
strongly encourage you to vote for the bill when it comes to the floor
for final vote.


Ms. Christine Southard

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy 10th Birthday Weblog

Thanks to Steve Hargadon for making me aware of the Weblog's birthday at

Did you know that according to wikipedia, the phrase "weblog" will turn 10 on December 17th, 2007? I teach 5th grade, so that means that blogging is as old as most of the students in my class. By the way, my 10 year old students really love blogging.

Do you support blogging with your students? YOU SHOULD! Check out

Then check out this BLOG birthday wishes voicethread:

Isn't this great? Good! Now go blog, and don't forget to include your students. :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Do You Know About Students 2.0?

Students 2.0 Launch Teaser from Sean on Vimeo.

As stated on the Student 2.0 Site:
For decades, students have been put in classrooms, sat down at desks, and told how to learn and what to learn. For a time when students were expected to become widgets for the vast machine of industry, this model of education was highly effective. However, we are now entering a new age: an age where thinking is more important than knowing, where the thought trumps the fact. Borders are melting away; project teams collaborate across the globe and intelligence is being continually redefined. The world’s information is at our fingertips and everyone can publish their thoughts for virtually no cost.

Everywhere, we see changes: in how business operates, in how people interact and success is accomplished. That is, we see changes everywhere besides the closed bars of education. The system continues to “stay the course” upon a falling ship. Yet, the widgets within the machine are no longer content to grind away. Ideas are popping up everywhere, across the globe. Students are continually redefining their own lives and how they want to learn and interact.

Adults and teachers talk about education and students, but rarely invite students into these discussions. Fortunately, this blog plans to change that by offering an authentic student voice upon education. This is not a gimmick, there's no puppet master: we're intent upon confronting the issues of modern education, never backing down from a challenge. Students 2.0 is a challenge for leaders and teachers alike: are you willing to listen to students?

Add this link to your account and then help spread the word to educators around the globe. Stay CONNECTED.

My Cognitive Learning Environment

In my inclusion classroom, my co-teacher and I use a variety of methods to facilitate learning. As a special education teacher, I feel it is important to teach learners how to learn. My co-teacher and I create lessons based on students learning styles and the strengths and weaknesses of individual students. Every year, however, our class changes. One of the ways we address these changing dynamics is with a learning style assessment at the beginning of each school year. We also begin almost every unit with a pre-assessment to determine if students have prior knowledge/experience with a particular unit or skills.

When one student in our inclusion class fails an assignment, we discuss with that student how he/she studied and if the method they chose may have not met their learning style. When the whole class does poorly, my co-teacher and I ask each other, how can we reteach this lesson to meet the learning needs of our students.

Prior knowledge is important, like Alexander (1996) states, but so is experience with information. Remember that ancient Chinese saying, "When I hear, I forget. When I see I remember. When I do, I understand?"

To encourage information retention in the South Paris Collaborative, we use a lot of multi-sensory activities to help our students learn. As a class: we use graphic organizers, manipulatives, mnemonics, we watch and create video clips & movies, we draw, we act, we write, we blog, we podcast, we play games online and off, and we have discussions. We do all of these activities concurrently, and when we have time, we repeat them again. Repeated exposure in different modalities improves memory and understanding.

My experience is that multi-sensory learning environments help students to be more successful with learning. It is also my experience that project based learning provides students with a more authentic experience and a rationale for retaining information.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

If you haven't read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, you should. The premise of the book is how our once left brained society is becoming more right.

Here is an article written by the same author back in 2001:
School's Out: Get ready for the new age of individualized education

FYI - The Discovery Educators Network is presenting a free webinar with Daniel Pink on December 12th. Follow this link to register.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Power of Inclusion

Everyone has their own definition of inclusion. Mine is best defined by my new online teacher friend Mr. Brian Crosby. He created this movie with his fifth grade students to show how they used web 2.0 technology to be inclusive of all the members of their class.

Last year, Mr. Crosby had a student named Celeste, a student with leukemia. While she would be a student on his roster, she would not always be able to attend school because of her chemotherapy.

After learning about Mr. Crosby found a way to include Celeste as a member of his classroom. Watch this "Inclusion Movie" that Mr. Crosby made with his 5th grade class during the 2006-2007 school year to explain how they used Skype to stay connected with Celeste while she was out of school.

Read Celeste's reflection on her classblogmeister blog.

Mr. Crosby is a true pioneer in the inclusion revolution using teachnology in the classroom. Kudos to him and his class.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Differentiated Podcasting Podcast

Check out this podcast I created with my teacher friend Amy Thomas. It is a post on differentiated podcasting.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blogs in Plain English

If you still don't quite understand the concept of blogging and why YOU should blog, read other peoples blogs and then comment, then watch this Lee Lefever video titled "Blogs in Plain English." Blogs connect people, they help to create your network of go-to people in the virtual world of the web. I learned about this video from my online friend, ijohnpederson. Who will you share this video with?

Don't forget to comment. Let's stay connected. :)