Monday, July 9, 2012

Blog Post # 12

giraffe with many tech words,phrases

I went back and forth with ideas for this blog assignment with the intent and hope to develop a great, useful and effective assignment. I referred to my PLN for some needed inspiration as my mind was flooding with endless possibilities. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. My impetuous migration to my "favorites tab" to search was the key to this assignment. See, I'm an elementary education major, who before taking this class, thought that the extent of "technology" in the classroom was merely the use of a Smart Board. Little did I know that there's an entire world devoted to technology in the classroom. 21st Century School Teacher is the label and the principles of "connectivism" is the definition. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama and I am being groomed to become a part of this new revolution. Without this class teaching me the importance of technology, I might have hindered my students to some degree. A PLN meant nothing to me before the start of summer semester and now my vast web of "personal learning networks" lead me to the assignment I'm submitting.

Blog Post # ___, due on _______.

I. The significance of becoming an effective teacher depends largely on the support of administors within the school district. While training workshops offer initial developement in the use of technology, the long term plan requires a more formal support system. Do you agree or disagree? Answer the question following the guidelines of writing a quality blog.

II. According to , Scott McLeod and a team of professors at The University of Kentucky developed the website CASTLE--Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education-- which is currently "the nation’s only center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators."
CASTLE's [prime focus is the work within their Postsecondary Partnership Program, which is a close affiliation with a university's educational leadership program and the improvement of their technological prepardness.]

III. Within the site you will find their publications titled CASTLE Briefs. These briefs are intended to educate school administators about the what, why, and how-s surrounding technology leadership issues. The briefs attempt to answer the question, “What do school administrators need to know about this technology leadership topic? [They are] classic research or policy briefs; others may be more practice-oriented or focus on thought leadership in a particular area."

i. Your assignment is to submit a CASTLE brief using one of the provided topics/ideas OR using your own idea/topic here. Remember to address the question, "What do administrators need to know about ... ?", keep it between 500-2,000 words, and follow the guidelines of writing a quality blog.

ii. Send a 'thank you' tweet to Scott McLeod (@mcleod). Remember to tag EDM310 so that I can see it.

Below is my CASTLE brief submission:

July 10th, 2012

Dear Dr. McLeod and fellow founders of CASTLE,
My name is Mary Anderson and I am a student at the University of South Alabama obtaining my degree in elementary education. I am currently finishing my last few weeks of summer semester and my EDM 310 professor Dr. John Strange has asked me and all other students to develop an assignment we feel he would give during a semester. I became interested in the CASTLE briefs after viewing Dr. McLeod’s blog Dangerously Irrelevant for a previous class assignment. I did some browsing on the public school system website here in Mobile,AL, hoping to find “technical leadership” FAQs but, was unsuccessful. I also tried several phone calls to the “tech support” line, with no avail. My goals were to find exact information regarding the percentages of classrooms with technological advancements vs. the percentage of accurately trained educators, as well as, finding out if our school system currently has a full technological support staff.
The question I pose is, “What do administrators need to know about the benefits of having a full technological staff.” The answer? Better and more proficient expansion for educators is the solution to the improvement of quality learning within the classroom. When an educator cannot integrate technology to its full potential, the pressure can subdue the teachers, and hinder their confidence. Another reason school districts should have full time information technology (IT) help because it’s a more formal approach than workshops. Workshops have their perks in the heat of the moment but, when you toy around with a device for a short period of time, that does not make you an expert. The backbone for making technology within the classroom have a 100% success rate is the administration themselves. As part of my journey to becoming an elementary educator, being groomed to become a tech perceptive 21st century teacher is a main goal. Throughout my education, I have heard many excuses as to why an IT system is not in place in most schools. The number one reason is cost, and that is a huge factor for not providing a 10 manned “geek squad” for back up. It is not always possible for the educators themselves to attend weeklong workshops to receive the intended knowledge that would effectively implement technology in the classroom. However, there are plenty of useful and cheaper resources all around and that would be the PTA, room mothers, and active volunteers. Is administration stepping outside of the box to develop and expand their potential resources?
Thank you for your consideration and taking them time to view my concerns. I believe the CASTLE briefs are an excellent resource in themselves.

Mary Anderson


  1. Very interesting. I got a little confused after reading Part I and the rest of the assignment. I finally understood with your answer what you were doing. I'll give this website a go. ;-)

    Why did your blog format that way? It's broken into pieces. Did you copy and paste? There was also a link that didn't have a name.

    Glad you shared this with the class. I'll add it to my PLN.

  2. Hi Mary! I usually check out your blog, and after reading Blog Post #12 and Lindsay's comment above I wanted to leave some feedback.

    Balanced flow in a blog allows readers to easily follow your thought process. While format is important, I don't think there are any rules about sections being broken up into pieces or the number of spaces in between paragraphs or sections. I interpreted your space breaks to separate the different aspects of your assignment;
    1. Describing what the blog post was about.
    2. The actual assignment including background about the "Castles" program.
    3. A letter to Dr. McLeod and the founders of the "Castles" project.
    (By the way, I think that you doing the actual letter was a great idea because it would give students an example to go by if this were to become an actual assignment, and you TOOK ACTION! You submitted that letter and got the ball rolling putting South Alabama on the "Castles" radar!)

    I think your idea to use this assignment could even make a difference in our local education system. They always say "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Perhaps an influx of communication between "Castles" and the school systems that students write about could influence that school system to acquire more technology in order to be prepared for the pro-active teachers who are about to enter the work force!

    I think you did a good job with an original idea. Your assignment would require
    EDM 310 students to use several aspects of technology we've learned about, but also make their voices heard regarding concerns of the lack of technology tools in the school systems they may teach in some day. When critiquing someone else's work, sometimes we have to stand back and realize that we don't all think, organize, carry-out things the same way. I am also a firm believer in building people up with encouraging suggestions, rather than being too harsh and possibly leaving that person feeling discouraged. This is the method I will use with my own students someday. We all need to know if we are doing something wrong or could do something better; that's how we learn! However, I think that there's a tactful way of pointing those things out. I think you did a great job and have even inspired me to write my own letter to Dr. McLeod and "Castles"!

  3. Lindsey,
    Thank you for your feedback, but I must say, I do not follow your confusion concerning the entirety of my post. Would you be willing to elaborate concerns? I believe I followed the rules concerning format. The directions for the assignment stated, "Create an assignment for a Blog Post I should have created in your area of speciality (math,history, elementary ed, special ed, whatever). Write the instructions that I should have put here. Then do it. As you can see I often use the suggestions made by students. Be a contributor to EDM310 in the future!"
    So my answer to your question would be yes, I intended it to be that way. Would you specify what you mean by "broken into pieces"? I do see a larger gap between "Blog post # ____ ..... I. The significance", but the other spaces indicate the beginning and ending of each section;my introduction, the assignment instructions, my personal submission of the assignment. Lastly, the link you're referring to is being used specifically as a resource for the quoted cite, therefore I purposely let it stand out rather than naming it.

    Adding this website to your PLN is a very wise decision. I've found it useful not only in EDM 310, but in other classes as well.

    Christie--Thanks for the feedback too! Although it is not a part of the assignment, I'm currently waiting reply from the Information Techology Service Dept of MCPSS concerning several of my inquiries (some that I mentioned in my CASTLE brief) on the actions our school system is taking regarding better tech education for educators.

  4. Hello Mary,

    This is what we hope to see when this blog assignment comes around. Innovation and thought. Great work, Mary. I'm definitely telling Dr. Strange about this.