MTA Eliminates 19th Century Technology from Students

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009 - 2:04pm

Angry BoyChancellor Klein has announced a series of initiatives acknowledging that schools need to retool and innovate to prepare students for the 21st century.   So while the school system is now seriously exploring the role of technology to advance education,  (something I care deeply about)  the MTA is effectively eliminating the19th century technology that makes it possible for poor students to get to schools of choice…(the train)       

The MTA has announced budget cuts that will eliminate the free metro-pass for students, requiring families to fork over $80+ dollars per child per month (think $240 dollars for a family of three) to go to school!  Is this a pre- Brown vs Board of Education policy or what?

Choice in schools is a fundamental part of the New York City education deal. Students apply to middle and high schools and travel long distances to get opportunities not available to them locally.  

The MTA’s mission is not education.  Why then do they have control over this mission-critical educational budget item? 

The impact on poor students is devastating.   I, for one, would pay double for a metro card to see this...


Google Wave and Schools

By: eodonnell Posted: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 9:30pm

Google Wave and Schools

There has been a lot of excitement in the technology-world about Google's new beta project, Google Wave - and rightfully so, it is an exciting new way of thinking about communication.  There's also been a lot of confusion about what exactly wave is and what it does; and because people have had a hard time explaining the tool, it has come off as a complicated application. However, after playing with it for a couple days, my opinion is just the opposite.  

So what is Google Wave?

The easiest way to think about Google Wave is to imagine real-time email; or a combination of email and instant messaging.  You can send and recieve messages just like email - but if the person / people you are writing to are online, you can have a real-time conversation with them.  They can even see your key-strokes while you're typing.  On top of this tricked-out email system, they have added gadgets to enrich the whole experience.  These are embeddable tools that allow you to do such things as polling, video conferencing, even sudoku - again all in real-time.  There's even a "playback" feature if you want to visually see how the conversation took place.  

So what does it do for Schools?

Teacher conferencing was the first thing that came to mind when I thought...


Google's New Assessment Tool

By: eodonnell Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 6:21pm

GoogleGoogle's next big thing in education might not be Google Wave or Google Apps for education, but a new data-analysis tool they've been working on, Google Fusion Tables.  Google's long been known for making the hard to do simple, and Fusion Tables is no different.  It makes looking at data simple - if you've ever struggled with a pivot table in excel, you'll appreciate immediately what it does. 

Fusion Tables takes a standard data table either imported from excel, or shared from Google Apps and allows you to visualize the data without any technical complexity.  So, imagine you're a middle school looking to improve your students in ELA. You've bought into the data movement, you get that there will always be standardized tests and measures, but that periodic assessments are also important.  You even have your teachers on board, have setup data teams to meet and look at the data and have worked hard to standardize your rubrics.  But you don't have any money for a fancy system, the ones your district provide you only work with the standardized data, and everything else is either paper-based or on individual spreadsheets / gradebooks.  So how will Google help?  First, setup Google Apps for education, it's free, and allows your teachers to collaborate...


School of One

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 6:10pm

Not an Integrated Learning System: A New Vision for Teacher Collaboration and Specialization

This week I went to see School of One, declared a futuristic, 21st century classroom (NYTIMES, GOTHAMSCHOOLS). And it has taken me a while to process.

I met with architect of the system, Joel Rose, last year. He described a vision of a learning environment that met students exactly at their levels with lessons adjusted to their individualized learning styles.  As he spoke, I thought to myself, this sounds just like an integrated learning system (ILS), except it is more complicated. Trying to be helpful, I even sent him a link to an ILS system after our meeting.

For those who don’t know what an Integrated Learning System is, this was the first cut at computer-aided instruction designed to let children learn at their own pace, be constantly assessed, and move up at their own levels. More sophisticated ILS systems started to aggregate content from a number of different content providers to offer students the best of breed content and meet their specific needs. Can you see how I might have been confused?

Joel’s vision went beyond the traditional ILS,...


2009 Innovative Principal Forum

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2009 - 6:02pm

PrincipalAt our Innovative Principal Forum 2009, we invited three principals of schools experimenting extensively with technology as well as the Director of New Schools to speak with 65 of their peers about following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the 21st century school? video
  • What are higher order 21st century skills? video
  • Why do they matter now more than ever?  video
  • What are the tensions between our accountability systems and teaching of higher order 21st century skills? video
  • How are these schools managing that tension? video
  • What examples of school innovation enhanced by technology are they experimenting with? video
    • School-Home Communication
    • Curriculum Reform
    • Access at the Learning Moment

We launched our Rubric for School Innovation and simple self assessment checklist, designed to outline a set of critical questions to guide school leaders assess themselves on a continuum of school innovation in a set of critical areas. A short...


Realizing the Promise of the 21st Century School: Leadership Forum

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 9:46am

21Cent Learning

We are pleased to invite school leaders to our Annual School Leadership Forum 2009! 

We have a fantastic  group of principals and other school leaders presenting on: 

Realizing the Promise of the 21st Century School: A Roadmap for Innovation

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115
Annual Forum for School Leaders

More information on the program is included below. Please let your school leaders know!

What is a 21st century school?  Technology is radically changing every sector of our society, yet schools remain largely unchanged. Or do they? Hear from a panel of innovative NYC school leaders on the vanguard of rethinking urban education. They will speak about their experiences regarding what is important, the challenges and what's possible!

• Alisa Berger: Principal, NYC iSchool
• Sarah Scrogin: Principal, East Bronx Academy for the Future
• Gregg Korrol...


PS 5 Students in the Bronx Document the Impact of the XO

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - 1:01pm

Check out the students at PS 5 in the Port Morris section of the Bronx and their amazing documentary about the history and impact of Nicholas Negroponte’s ground breaking XO pilot project in their school. The video speaks for itself.. I don’t want to give anything away.


Twitter and Facebook - Your First Source for Current Events in Social Studies?

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - 12:56pm
Iran Protests
Iran Protests

So I was thinking about the teaching opportunity presented by the Iran election. What a way to see democracy in action…   Yet, until a few minutes ago, where would my students get their news? Not old media.

I just spent an hour searching facebook (search IRAN) and twitter  #iranelection and couldn’t believe the video and posts I was finding.  For one, I found out I should wear green to show my support for the protestors and then watched a whole bunch of videos of riots and marches.

Yet, hours later, CNN finally got with the story. Tear Gas and...


Civic Activists for a Digital Age

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 - 10:51am

HUNDREDS of New York students made their voices heard on critical social issues of the day spanning child labor to racial profiling as part of the Voices and Choices program with Teaching Matters!

Speaker Quinn Presenting to Students AND Students Workshopping Social Justice Campaigns with Real NYC Social Activitists With over 50 schools participating, students met with policy makers, the business community, and civic activists to present and improve their campaigns for social justice! Speaker Quinn urged hundreds of 8th graders and their teachers to continue their work in social justice just as she has been doing in the council for years. The students, who researched and prepared unique web-campaigns...


What if You Faced Virtual Students BEFORE You Took the Job

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 - 10:50am

I had been waiting for someone to invent this. Simulations of some pretty challenging students to test the mettle and prepare pre-service educators. This video below says it all. It appears to be a pretty expensive model of teacher development, but the cost of figuring our classroom management on simulated students, not real ones, might be a few extra points on the ELA or Math tests. And we know that counts for quite a bit these days.