I have never met a teacher that thinks No Child Left Behind is a good law.  What does that say?  States are now allowed to opt-out of this law which made standardized testing the rule of the day.  But what strings are attached?  Can we find a way to effectively evaluate our students and hold teachers accountable for the growth and development of their students.  The essentail questions is how do we define growth?  Can we quaantify progress with a number grade or a test with a choice of four bubbles, or do we need something more/  Do we need a qualitatitve analysis of our students.  Can we trust teachers' opinions regarding how their students are learning and developing?  Isn't that what we train and pay them for?  Or does their need to be a common standard that can only be evaluated by giving everyone the same examination.

Take a listen.  What do you think?  Can we make improvements?  Is this a step in the right direction or just more of the same?    Can we, as teachers, come together for a more rigorous and effective evaluative mechanism?  Please share your comments below.
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Last year I took a class where I became a certified Flat Classroom Teacher.  It was designed by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis who were featured in Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat.  In that course, the educators spoke of breaking down the classroom walls with the tool of the internet while interacting and collaborating with schools around the country.  It was through this program that I developed the collaborated project called How Could War Look Different? where social studies teachers who are teaching about wars (any war) can come to the website and utilize the template to collaborate with other countries to reveal how each classroom across the world (especially the participants in the wars, learn about the war.)

In an effort to further flatten the classroom, I have begun to explore the uses of Google+ for education.  Google+.  Google+ is Google's version of a social networking platform similar to Facebook and Twitter.  The beauty of Google+, However is its ability to group your "friends" into distinct circles.  This way you can separate who is allowed to read what post, so my educational posts can be read by educators, my goofy posts can be read by my friends and my truly ridiculous posts will be shielded from Grandma's prying eyes.  It is neat and necessary and great for education.  Students can be batched into one "circle"---conceivable, as I believe right now, for some reason, the joining age is 18.  And that way, student posts can be kept strictly to students.  

One of Google+';s greatest features is Google Hangouts, where you can essentially video chat with up to ten individuals in one room.  The great part is that there are nine small video windows at the bottom and one main screen at the top and as people "take over the floor" their screen is pushed to the top/main screen for prime viewing.  It is truly an amazing interactive service.  Over the summer, I started an educational broadcast called The Power of Ten:  Discussing Education's Future which was broadcast in real time and archived on the show's website www.edhangout.com

For about seven weeks I had some pretty powerhouse educational guests participate in the show, including Great Neck Southj's own Heather Peretz and Doug Moore.  It went very well and over three hundred people watched the show each week, but it often crashed and I was unable to get through all of my tapings.

Today, Google announced several new features to Google+ Hangouts.  First is the ability to record and broadcast any of the shows to Google+ and to YouTube.  Several other features were also added and they seemed to be geared toward educators.  There is now a screen sharing function to Google+ Hangouts.  What this means is that you can broadcast your computer screen to anyone with the link.  It basically puts GoToMeeting out of business.  

There is also the ability to add Google Docs and notes to the Google+ Hangout.  Essentially what this means is that during a meeting or a class, students can take collaborative notes on the meeting/lecture and have the ability to access it later at their leisure.  Thinking more globally, if you invite two people from England, two people from Germany, two people from Japan, two people from Russia and host the Hangout in a classroom from the USA, you could easily have an incredible global discussion with notes and a group video discussion on the impact of World War II.  The educational value cannot be overstated.

Currently, we do not have access to Google+ or Google+ Hangouts through our filter system, but hopefully we can break down the walls of the system, if with educational rationale in hand, we can open the eyes of our students and our administrators to the world of possibilities out there.  There is so much that awaits us in the future of education.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

What are your thoughts on all of these potentialities?

I am so excited to be starting my new post as Technology Staff Developer and really looking forward to all that we may be able to accomplish with my 7th grade students as we try to guide them toward building real world companies in our Flex schedule.  What drives me these days is the fact that there are so many opportunities on the internet to capitalize on a good idea.   A perferct example of this simple idea making millions is a company called Grub With Us.  This company has three simple steps:  1. Browse-Find people to eat with and/or places to eat at,

2. Reserve-Reserve a seat through our hassle-free payment system.and
3. Socialize -You already paid, so just show up, eat and socialize!

It isn't anything more than Match.com meets Facebook  in a restaurant.  Now they have 1.6 million in investments.  

The beauty of where we are in this prescient internet age is that a good idea posted on the web can still have tremendous value.

Take a look at the real world innovation in the video above that literally just mixes three ingredients to change people's lives forever.  Creativity, ingenuity, and surpirse will always light our way as a society.  I hope that we can foster changes that will help our future generations.

We are teaching and inspiring students who are going to shape the world ahead of us in so many ways.  I can only imagine what they will contribute and I am so happy that all teachers have the ability to plant the tiniest seed that could grow into monumental change in the bllink of an eye.

Can't wait for it all to unfold.


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