In February, St. Raphael's Catholic School hosted their annual State of the School. As I was assisting the teachers on their presentations and talking about various topics regarding educational technology, a nagging thought kept coming into my mind, "What is Global Contribution?" We talk as educators that we want our students to contribute to the community, but is today's community larger than our local neighborhood? In fact, it truly is a global community, here are a few examples:

  • I studied abroad at Oxford University and on my Facebook page, I am able to connect with friends from my time there.
  • I joined a Ning and am networked with individuals around the world who have the same vision.
  • My blog has been visited from every continent except South America
and a multitude of other things showing me that the world is much bigger than when I was a child.

Whether we know it or not little things have the potential to be contributed globally.

How did I ever come to this conclusion? What very few people know is that I speed skate. I picked up the sport during college, it was due to the fact that Bemidji was literally the "Ice Sports Capital of America". I also tried playing hockey, curling, figure skating, but speed skating stuck. Over the past few years I have been so busy with other things: student teaching, writing my thesis, buying a house, getting married, that I reluctantly put my skating on hold.

This year I made a promise to myself to take my speed skating seriously and devote as much time as I could. However, the speed skating world changed in the past few years. With changes like: boots that are interchangeable from ice blades to inline blades, the Nike swift suit, and the fact that world record times are dropping. I felt like I had literally been moved to another planet, bad crossovers and all.

As a true millennial all of my answers to life should be found online, right? However, speed skating is not as popular here as it is in the Netherlands but rest assured this is the 21st century and I could connect to someone, somewhere that had a connection to speed skating even if it was in Danish.

Then I found a blog, Zen and the Art of Speed Skating (www.andrewlove.org/blog). Who? What? An American a speed skater who decided to keep track of his preparations for the 2006 Olympic Trials and just posted his 500th post on February 29th. I learned that over 1,000 visitors come to his site daily, has had close to 3,300 comments, and will crack 500,000 visitors this year alone. He writes in his blog:

"I never intended to create something like this. I just wrote and photographed what interested me, and the world showed up."

I could only think about how it is such a profound statement. Connecting to something I once saw in a picture, "From personal knowledge, to global contribution." This is so true.

Finally, I just want to send out a thank you Andrew for helping me come to the conclusion about global contribution.

 
I originally had this as the second part of my last post, until I realized it would solidify that I was completely random! So I moved it to its own post.

One of my favorite quotes, I used to have on a poster in my bedroom, on it was a gymnast standing on the balance beam. I am not sure of the significance of the beam. Although, on the bottom of the picture it says: Do not pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person. I can only think about how that is such a powerful statement.

So I have spent a bit of time reading articles about making students stronger. Reflecting and reorganizing my thoughts as the Director of Technology, but sadly, having little time to write down those thoughts.

Until I wrote an email to a good friend after I hosted several teachers for our Techtober-Fest. As I wrote the email I began to see what my job was suppose to be. Here is a small excerpt:

When I first started teaching, I like most young naive newbie teachers thought my subject area was the most important. Oh how things have changed... As I have progressed through these past three years, I have learned that technology is only a small piece of the puzzle, and each of us contribute to the puzzle... This idea needs to be about giving the WHOLE student a better experience. Building them as an individual who has strengths in many areas but is a good person overall.

So as I stand on this earth (which seems to have kept me quite busy), I reflect each day a little differently now. I am asking myself constantly, how am I making these students a stronger person?

 
Oh busy! busy! busy! As I am starting on the various little tasks that this school year has given me, I thought I would give a quick synopsis of our technology plan and some of the little ideas. This post will be short as I have spent most of my day writing down the plan.

This year I am working on the school's technology plan. It has a promising end result, but the hours devoted to research and development seem to be adding up. As I am looking at the information, I can start to develop a direction in which I would like to take Technology at SRS. I know that I want to add programs, such as parent education, continue with the sharing days with other Technology Coordinators, and begin looking at system to upgrade the labs.

I have introduced Google Apps to the Technology Task Force. I have asked them to use this tool as we begin our document- we are building this tech plan on a collaborative effort of many people.

 
Last spring we hosted the Spring Fling- we had close to 30 participants from various schools around the archdiocese. This year we decided with the energy that the Spring Fling we could not keep our energy bottled up- so we decided that we would host a day in the fall. We affectionately called the day, "Techtober-Fest". The morning started off with Dorothy presenting (Dorothy's Presentation) about how learning is the most important, technology comes second. After a bit of a discussion with our participants, I presented on the Tools We Use (My Presentation). The presentation was to be a starting point to share the resources we use- I learned about several new tools, including backflip- which looks much cleaner and nicer than del.icio.us.

I am hoping that these days will be able to further generate a discussion about the importance of 21st century learning.


 
I am actually writing this post on my cell phone en route to Columbus, Ohio. I just hope that it doesn't leave me without a cell phone on my next trip. Not sure about how the formatting will be but I will fix when I get my computer back (read on).

So what is "The Journey That Mattered"? Well, in 2001 I studied abroad at Oxford University I was studying Psychology and needed to begin finding direction in my future. I had no intention of becoming a psychologist I wanted to do research but what type I did not know. I chose to further look into foreign affairs and ended up graduating with a degree in Psychology and International Studies.  I ended up taking an amazing job at SRS and have begun to search out direction. But why would I tell you this en route to Columbus, Ohio?

Well, this trip I hope is the next trip to be "The Journey That Mattered". Yesterday, I had a long talk with a good friend and it was decided that I would go on this trip without my laptop, enjoy time with my husband and would read a good book. I was a bit hesitant to give up the laptop- since I typically am on the laptop working on long car trips. Although, I was not going to battle her since she called my husband and told him that I would be without my laptop, I was to read a book, and I was not to work. He was to keep me away from work during our annual weekend together in Columbus, Ohio- he has done a very good job so far.

We'll talk again on Monday. Let's see how well this will go. =)

 
When I first started at SRS, I really was not nervous. I was told by a coworker to get these teacher's to use technology I would have to work with these teachers non-stop, that made things a little uneasy. However, I started by upgrading much of our school's infrastructure; new computers for the teachers and students, an all campus wireless network, and programs to help make the teacher's job easier.

So over the past two school years we have done some amazing things. I enjoy calling our teachers "digital pioneers". So now I am entering my 3rd year at St. Raphael's and I am actually more nervous than I have been in the previous two years. We are working together to further benefit the 21st century learner and my goal is to reach the "tipping point", in which the efforts in technology integration will spread like wildfire throughout our school. We are getting close so I guess it is "wait and see."

So what is in store for the teachers this year? Well, each teacher will have a blog in which they will detail their assignments, class information, etc. check out my blogroll for more information. We improved our student to computer ratio 1:2.4.

h yes, I do recognize that this will also be the place in which I give curriculum updates for classes they will be under the "Tag/Category" of "SRS TinT"

 
Each year teachers at SRS are asked to create a focus for their professional development. My first year, I was observed three times by the principal, as I was getting my feet wet and learning how to be a better teacher. My second year, my focus was educating others. I was presenting to the Parish Finance Council, at our State of the School, and our first Technology Spring Fling, I was according to my mentor, "very busy."

So what is my focus this year? Well, over the summer I have been trying to learn more about my generation (yes, I am a millennial) and how I can effectively work with the other generations. I was talking informally with the principal today and she brought up a good point, I do not know how to not be busy yet I rebel when I am given a schedule. As I reflected on my teenage years, I had a daily schedule that included getting up, going to school, going to practice, riding the bus for an hour home, doing my homework and heading to bed. I called my mum this evening and said, "I did have the supermom of the 90s." So I guess my focus will be how can I use this new found data and direct it towards projects such as marketing.

So as I was writing this blog posting, I was being my true millennial self- multitasking. I was chatting with friends over AOL IM, watching a little TV, and posting links to del.icio.us. I guess it does pose questions for people who do not understand how these millennials work.

 

 
As the team of teachers sent by SRS left the 2007 NECC, we talked about how we could next year contribute to the energy of the presentations. There is an interesting dynamic at SRS in regards to the teachers. There is a few of the mature generation, large number of baby boomers, a few gen-xers, and a one millennial teacher. However, we are educating the millennial population (our students) and understanding how the millennial operates will continue to help SRS move forward.

So, this past summer we have been looking in depth to the idea of the generations. Born in 1980 to baby boomer parents, I identify myself to be a millennial. Even though I am part of the earliest wave of this generation. However, I see the defining characteristic of the millennial generation is the need for "communication and connectedness". As I was enjoying an afternoon with my friends from school, we all sat around with our cell phones most of them were the "smart phones" with non-stop access to our email and the internet. Our cars are equipped differently than our parents, they include iPods and GPS with real-time traffic updates. The need for cigarette lighter adapters is at it is greatest.

Today my principal and I prepared our submission to the NCEA 2008 conference in Indianapolis. We talked about a more simple dynamic: digital immigrants and digital natives. As a digital native do I present an interesting dynamic to the workplace, I find technology as the most integral part of student learning. How can I help the digital immigrant become comfortable with technology? How can an administrator prepare their school to hire the digital native? I will be interested to see if our presentation is selected as one of the programs because I truly believe that this dynamic will begin "rearing its head" in the coming years.

 
Big ideas I guess at one point start small. I just finished working on a draft of our school’s annual report. The report’s goal was to highlight the accomplishments of our students which I believe it did. I could have written a small magazine on the success of our students but for printing and time sake I was limited to eight pages. In those eight pages I talked about our major improvements, our elementary school, and our middle school. All of this was done to move SRS to SRS 2.0

As I was finishing this I realized there were a few other projects that needed to be finished before the school year starts. I still need to go and take my notes from NECC 2007 and transcribe them for summer professional development for our teachers and teaching how to blog using Wordpress is one of the major topics.

So what else is on my to do list:

  • Read 1 technology article a day and comment on it.
  • Prepare our web based tools for student use.
  • Look at how students will use our new website srsonline.org
  • and finally …Enjoy the rest of my summer.