New podcast ep: taking the lid off technology

The unintended consequences of branded tech in the classroom

The unintended consequences of branded tech in the classroomIn this episode of The 21st Century Classroom, Tarrant Institute graduate research fellow Mark Olofson and I take a look at one of the premises of this article on the ill-fated city-wide rollout of iPads in Los Angeles classrooms, “Los Angeles schools need to think outside the iPad”.

A number of problems arose during and after the rollout that make valuable intellectual fodder for any school or district in their 1:1 planning phase, but the article’s author, Nathan Schneider raises an interesting point about how who makes the tech students use on a daily basis can shape their world-view.

So give episode #4, “Taking the lid off technology” a listen, and as always, we love to hear your feedback. This week’s music is by Chrissy Jackson, and you can find more of her Creative Commons-licensed sounds at her Soundcloud page.

You can subscribe to The 21st Century Classroom via iTunes or Soundcloud, or just keep tuning in here.

Too much good stuff: a wealth of reading and curation resources for the classroom

The technology cannot thwart us, it can only make us stronger

Susan Hennessey, professional development coordinator

I talk with my hands.

As many of you are aware, I was out at Harwood Union High School this past week for the Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) inservice day, armed to the teeth with iPads, apps, and tips and tricks for integrating technology into the classroom in a thoughtful, comprehensive and device-agnostic way.

Well, Harwood’s wi-fi network took one look at my plans and passed out cold, a victim of shock and awe, I’m sure!

As I have no wish to cause the wi-fi further damage, let me present all my resources to you here in the pages of our very own Tarrant Institute blog.

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Making the most of twitter in your classroom

making the most of twitter in your classroomTwitter’s not just a great way to build your PLN as an educator, it’s also a powerful tool to connect students with the world around them in very unique ways. But how can you make those connections authentic learning experiences?

Let’s look at making the most of twitter in your classroom.

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Making the most of twitter as an educator

Part 1: Grow your PLN and get help from those who’ve been there

Making the most of twitter as an educatorTwitter is an invaluable resource for educators looking to share their successes and challenges in an asynchronous, on-demand way. It’s a low-stress entry into social media where you only have to post a little at a time to connect with educators both around the world and on the next block — sometimes as close as the next classroom away! Here’s some tips on making the most of twitter as an educator.

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Natural Disasters in the Classroom

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonWhen I was still teaching high school, I was presented one quarter with the option of creating and teaching a science elective. Looking at what my department offered, I noticed a lack of courses that explored the earth sciences. At the time I was getting really interested in weather, and so I created a course called “Weather and Climate.”  As you might imagine, students did not exactly flock to the course. Those that did come had a rich learning experience; we structured the course around three large projects, and for our climate change unit we built a setup with an exhaust catcher, specific heat monitor, and CO2 sensor and burned a bunch of different fossil fuels. I felt it was a strong class, but was disappointed that not many students chose to take it. The next year, I expanded the scope of the class, and retitled it: “Natural Disasters.” The student response was… much better. Today I’d like to talk about some of the student-centered learning that can happen when students engage with natural disasters. Continue reading

Online town halls connect digital learners with U.S. Presidents

If you could ask a President of the United States one question, what would it be?

Online town halls connect digital learners with U.S. PresidentsIn July 2011, President Barack Obama made history when he became the first U.S. President to host a virtual “town hall” meeting via social media. Obama’s Twitter account received 169,395 #AskObama tweets, and a Twitter search algorithms revealed that the most popular hot topics of the night were jobs (23%), budget (18%), taxes (18%), and education (11%).

The tech-savvy President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama each continue to have more than a million followers, demonstrating how the online social networking service can be a window into the daily operations of the most powerful office in America.

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Becoming an Innovative Teacher

There’s no doubt that teachers understand best the transition to innovative, technology-rich classroom practice, or as our colleague, Joe Speers of Peoples Academy Middle Level, says, “to take students as far as they can go.” Take a listen to his interview with Pat Bradley, bureau chief at WAMC Public Radio in Albany.


You may remember Joe Speers from some of his earlier posts for us:

We’re currently searching for more educators like Joe Speers to partner with us as part of our new expansion. Are you up to the challenge of becoming an innovative educator?


How to add footnotes to Google Docs on your iPad

Cite your sources as you write

how to add footnotes to Google Docs on your iPadI was working with a teacher the other day who expressed some frustration around wanting to add footnotes to Google Docs on the iPad while doing some research with students.

Well, as I began to look into it, I realized there’s kind of a trick to it, so I sat down and recorded this screencast to show you step by step how to set up your Google Drive so you can add footnotes to research on your iPad. It’s a bit tricky, but I’m sure you’ll agree, entirely worth it.

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Welcome our newest partner: Christ the King School

Welcome to our newest partner: Christ the King School

Christ the King School principal Angela Pohlen (l) shares a laugh with Tarrant Foundation executive director Lauren Curry at the official signing on October 2nd.

This past Thursday we officially welcomed Christ the King School, in Burlington, as our newest partner school. Professional development coordinator Meredith Swallow has been working with the faculty and leadership team for the past year on school transformation and technology integration, and we’re excited to be able to take this next step in the relationship.

Hear from Swallow on what we see in this school that we believe makes them such a fantastic choice for partnering:

Congratulations to Christ the King School!

As a result of the newly announced $5 million gift from the Tarrant Foundation to the University of Vermont, we’re able to continue to offer partnership slots to Vermont schools. Is your school ready to partner with us?