Category Archives: Technology

3 Species slowing technology usage on your campus

“You don’t have a technology problem you have a discipline problem”

cell header
Image by ///r3

Wise words from the twittosphere!  Across campuses across this country our students are bringing their devices(maybe more than one!) to school. How are we as educators handling this. Does your school ban them? Are you open to them? Are they praised for bringing/using their tools daily? No matter the answers to these questions more often than not some of your staff struggles with these foreign objects being present in their classroom. I present to you 3 species of teacher who struggle with devices in the class and a possible solution for their condition.



-disclaimer: i’m not an expert and these conditions can be contagious(of course they’re not)

desk 1
image by nolaclutterbusters

1. Desk Campers: (Deskus Campicus): You will most likely find this teacher huddled behind his or her desk behind a stack of papers or in front of a computer screen. Not very likely to detach from the desk and walk around the room the students will shift their bodies and angle their devices away from the immobile creature. The time it takes to get up to move around is ample time for the students to cover their tracks and appear idyllic.



Solution: Getting up and moving among the students allows you to interact 1:1 with them and build relationships which go a long way in the run towards a well run classroom and obedient students. Part of the fun of BYOT/BYOD in my opinion is that once the heavy lifting of planning is doing you get to see what the students are learning on their own and they might show or teach you something.

image by woodleywonderworks

2. Statues: (Pontificus Stagefrontacus): You will find this teacher perched or standing in front of the class lecturing or gesturing to a lecture he or she typed and put on a screen. This teacher only seems to remember the way they were taught but can’t seem to recall if he or she enjoyed it because their students aren’t. This creature believes that being up in the front of the room demonstrates control and intimidation from misbehavior.



 Solution: Simply moving around the room as your deliver the topic will eliminate most issues. Going above and beyond get the students involved to the point where they don’t have time to wander off task. Some always will but you already know who these students are.


image by Caitlyn Willows Where the Scardycat phobius probably wishes they taught
image by Caitlyn Willows
Where the Scardycat phobius probably wishes they taught

3. Late Adopters: (Scardycat phobius): You will know this creature because he or she will still be writing lesson plans in a lesson plan book or has a solar powered calculator. The terms smartphone and tablet don’t exist in their vocabulary. Any attempt to introduce or share technology to assist the students will be met with an accusation the student will either: cheat, mis-behave, or be a bully. All of which happened well before personal devices entered our schools.



Solution: Frequent and small group trainings with other distinguished(older) staff members. Someone in the building with a relationship would work best. Concrete, lesson examples of what has worked in your room. Drill down deeper to how you manage devices. Help them see the device as a tool not the objective.


Rare Species sighting:

**Laissez Faire (studentus friendicus): This creature can be found on the friends list of students facebook and following them on twitter. They are found in a very laid back environment that can turn hostile quickly because of unspoken or unknown expectations. Technology is present everywhere but educational use is suspect. Boundaries are known to be very flimsy so protect yourself.
   Solution: Suggest and present good lessons on the appropriate uses of social media for students and adults. Place on strong emphasis on building proper online relationships pointing out manners and what to share and what not to.

Now that you have identified the creatures in your midst: HELP THEM. Come alongside them and show them the wonder of your ways. Show them the potential and possibilities of using the computing power in their pocket to help students discover their own learning.

2012-2013 School Year

Welcome to another new school year. It is my desire that everyone is excited about this journey as I am. This blog will serve a variety of purposes for the school year.

Let me take you on a little tour:

1. Class pages: Clickable button along the top of the page:( drop down menu will take you to each individual class) This is where I will post assignments, documents and information about my classes. This will be the access point for my active classes. (older classes exist as a resource for other teachers and former students)

2. Calendar: Clickable button along the top of the page: WIll show school events and upcoming dates; ex. End of 6 weeks, holidays, special events,

3. Job Board: Clickable button along the top of the page: During the school year various groups need technology based tasks completed. I will post them here and students will claim them via email. Its a great way to build familiarity with the technology skills they have and assist the people in the school.

Please Explore and snoop around.

All parents with students in Mr. White’s classes PLEASE fill out this form to help me stay in communication with you throughout the year.

What happens on the Internet, doesn’t necessarily stay on the Internet

Yesterday was an exciting day. We had the first student begin to follow our school twitter account, @lifewax. Now the word should spread like wildfire and before you know it our whole community will be on board(pipe dream). A boy can dream can’t he! I was excited to discover this and couldn’t wait to congratulate the young man in person, your allowed to do that right. Here’s where the fun comes in, when you get the email about a new follower you probably click on their profile to check them out. I did this and discovered he was followed by some other students. This led to a rabbit hole I was not sure I wanted to go down. I was bailed out by the end of the ALDS playoff game and a dead laptop battery.

I saw some things that peeled back the layers of our students and opened my eyes to what my #PLN on twitter has been saying for the past 7 months about teaching these kids how to be digital citizens and behaving online.  WOW, where to start, I can’t say I wasn’t totally shocked because kids are kids. I might be old but I remember the things that were exciting to me then that would make me and my parents: swearing, rap music, being friends with people they didn’t approve of. Now twitter opens up a whole new realm of possibilities because it’s online and parents can’t/don’t patrol everything their children do on the internets/cell phones. So where do parents/educators(i will cover how and why for educators later) step in when the  activities listed above aren’t enough and students start; sharing photos, sharing personal data, connecting to people you don’t know and can’t verify, etc. It’s a tricky situation but one that must be addressed quickly before the students start applying for jobs, college, etc and their data is online to be evaluated in terms of their acceptance and employment.

Where to start and what to say. I am your biggest advocate when it comes to using your technology and apps to enhance your learning. You already know how to use them why not put them to use to further your education. I am working on that from my end. What happens out side of the school day is another manner all together. You are connected and communicating with your friends and tweeps all the time and I think that is amazing. Your face to face communication skills suffer but you are able to clearly and effectively communicate your thoughts and feelings to those around you in ways we old people can’t fathom. This brings me to the big but in the conversation: BUT you actions have consequences. You are in control over everything you do online. Will it burn you one day or get you recognized for your talents? As you get older and asked to be treated as adults you will be held in that light even in what you do online. It’s no secret college review boards and employers search social networks to find out information about their employees. Your digital lives will exist forever. You need to know and patrol what it says about you.  Have you ever tried to delete a facebook profile? How about a twitter account? These things don’t go away easy and some thought needs to go into them
Then there is the 800 pound gorilla in the room: cyber-bullying. I was checking out the student who followed @lifewax last night and quickly found 2 examples of cyber-bullying. It’s nasty and not something you ever want to be a part off. It leads to outcomes no one wants to be a part of.

Rule of thumb for online communication:

“If you wouldn’t say it to someones face don’t post it online”

You are the first and most important line. Do you know what your kids are doing online? Do you know who they are talking to, connecting with, sharing with? Is this any different than letting them go to a friends house, the mall or the park? Would you let them go anywhere with people you didn’t know and/or approve of? How is this different than connecting with others online. On facebook you have to accept friends before they can see what you post/discuss on your wall. On twitter anyone can follow you and see what you post/tweet regardless of if you follow them or not. *there is a privacy setting on twitter you can activate where you have to accept everyone that follows you. So how do you talk to your kids about this:
1. Look up some literature to help:
A. Internet safety for Teens:
B. Teaching children about staying safe on the internet: Article

2. Talk to your kids about this. The worst thing you can do is pretend it doesn’t happen. I am not sure how to go about this conversation but this link will provide you with more literature if you need it.

3. What I would do:

A. Have discussions about the wonderful tool the internet is(it is and I believe it)

B. Discuss what is allowed and not allowed on the internet under my roof, this includes cell phones. I will pay for the phones as a means to control whats on it. When they want their own freedom they can pay for it. I might even make a fun poster as a family and put it near the computer as a reminder.

C. There would be set hours when the children were allowed on the computer and when they are not. Most computer operating systems have this feature included and you can set it per account.

D. Each child would have their own user account on the computer where their abilities would be limited. They would not be able to: change their password, change system settings, edit the registry, install programs, modify browser settings: history, cookies, passwords, to name a few.

E. All child accounts and passwords will be shared with the parents for monitoring at all times.

F. The internet will be filtered at the router level by a DNS service. (I use openDns right now at my house and it works great)

This may seem like a lot but remember: Kids make mistakes and it’s our job as adults/parents/teachers to help them learn from these mistakes so they don’t negative harm them later in their lives. Please ask your children about this and find out what happens on the internet in my child’s name


We sit in an awkward position at this juncture: we realize the power of social media and it’s benefits but we have to deal with a myriad of issues that go along with it;

-Does your district allow you to use it to connect with parents and students?
-How do you handle friending students on various sites?
-What role do we play when we see bad decisions being made that aren’t illegal?
-How are we allowed to demonstrate proper use and etiquette when students can’t see or use it in school? So by default these opportunities happen outside of school which goes back to a previous comment.

As an educator I feel it is my responsibility to teach the students on the proper use and engagement of the tools available on the internet. I also feel more strongly that this is an issue for the parents to deal with at home more than me, but because it has crept into our classroom this gives me a chance to touch on it with my students.

I thought about this a lot during my journey as a teacher and social media user over the last 7 months. 7 months, I know I am late to the game. Now that I’m in I am giving it everything I have. I am trying to learn all the ways that this can better my classroom. From this point of view it hasn’t taken me long to determine the pitfalls and positives of social media in the classroom. As teachers we have to model the use we want to see in the students. If we aren’t users how will we know when something is awry. If a student comes to us with an issue and we aren’t familiar enough with the platform that doesn’t excuse us from assisting, it just puts us at a disadvantage as helpers. So we need to beg and plead with our districts to allow us to engage the students with the tools we have and more importantly with the tools the students are comfortable with to escalate the possibilities of learning. I read a great article and from a kindergarten teacher in Grand Prairie, TX about how he used his facebook page for his class and how he controlled the environment to add enormous value to his class. I loved this and it got me thinking how can we do this in our classes: here are some steps:

1. Start a blog: let students know you exist on the internet and you have a life outside the classroom. Share yourself, thoughts, ideas, passions. This demonstrates appropriate use as a forum for your thoughts and your life.

1b. On the blog find a place to put your tweets or facebook status updates: yes for the whole world to see! You will be held accountable to your students, but we have a higher calling here: consequences for our actions and maturity. Being able to let the students peer into your life should inspire them and maybe help you clean some things out.

2. Edmodo: It’s like facebook for schools except the power the teacher has have been expanded. We are using it currently in our classes and the kids love it. For the 1st 6 weeks I did all the posting now I am turning that over to the kids and they are excited.

3. Facebook: It’s taboo or not allowed in your district, try this on for size in terms of setting up your group: article. I am not saying fly in the face of your district policies but you won’t know unless you ask. The worst someone can do is say no and even that might open up a dialogue.

I was really motivated to write this today by what I discovered last night and hope that I can help parents, students and teachers make the best out of this thing we call the Internet. Please continue this discussion it the comments section, I want my students to see appropriate use live and in action!


2011-2012: A Whole New Ballgame

First thing I want to do is give a huge shout out to my PLN on twitter. They have no idea the impact of their words, wisdom and knowledge that they have shared with me over the last 5 months. 5 months, wow it doesn’t even feel like that much time has gone by since I went to a regional workshop and discovered the power of twitter and its possibilities.

I never really embraced social media up until the aforementioned workshop. I’m not on facebook and thought that twitter was something that was a waste of time. My eyes were opened in a big way and the power of the hive mind is amazing. Sitting in that workshop last May, with my ipad, I had my socks blown off. I had a twitter account but never used it for much. Since that day my use has been incremental each day to the point now where I have a hard time digesting all the great content I miss each day when I am at work. I try to keep up but between my laptop, phone, and ipad I still miss so much good stuff.

The advancement of twitter into my life and methods completely changed the way I do things and how I operate. Google docs is now the center for all my document needs. I only open Office software for some more advanced formatting options that might be needed or to view a document from a friend or colleague. Evernote really is my trunk and the elephant couldn’t be a better symbol of what I keep in there. I use it so much I had to upgrade really quick during my transition time moving my notes, bookmarks. documents and images to the cloud. Knowing this material is accessible on any of my devices at all time is amazing. These are things I never thought would have been possible 5 years ago, when I started to use gmail and begin to integrate tech into my classroom full time.

I am pretty blessed to teach US Government/Economics in my computer lab with 30 machines on a daily basis but the desire and thirst for knowledge is already being borne out in my students.

We use edmodo as a discussion board on a daily basis. The students love being able to multi-task and participate in a class discussion at the same time. Students who normally wouldn’t speak up participate regularly and students make their arguments just as in depth in writing as they would verbally. Diigo is a wonder and I wish I could go back in time to use it while I was in school. Research and sharing has never been easier to accomplish. The material still has to be digested and thoughtfully considered for use, but the students love not having to take notes and being able to share with their colleagues is something they appreciate to say the least. Then there is gmail. Backing up work, gdocs, calendar, etc, etc, etc, each week it seems like we discover a new aspect of google’s service that helps our classroom work in a smoother more connected way.

There are more tools the kids have discovered and ideas that are already in the works for blogs posts later in the evening. This is one mans journey and search for knowledge and wisdom to help students accomplish more than they ever imagined because they can.

5 Reasons to Develop a PLN

I’ve been neglecting the blog as a tool as of late, I mean really as of late. Last Post in November of last year. Way to long. So here we go.

In April of this year I attended a technology conference at the Region 10 Education center in Richardson, TX. I came away with a bunch of good ideas and tools that I never knew about before. The one thing that they didn’t have a seminar on but should have was PLN’s(personal learning network). It’s something you can develop on Twitter(my choice), facebook, linkedin, etc, etc. All you need to do is search out like minded individuals and join in the conversation.

So why do it, in no particular order and in rapid fire:

1.Who doesn’t want to better themselves as a person or professional?
Have you seen the job market lately? If we are not trying to be the best we can be than we are going to get left behind. It should be about more than that, you should always strive to be the best at what you do, teacher, husband, leader, dad/mom, etc…

2. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel each day
Others have come before you and will come after you, every time you try and do something in your classroom, office, place of influence, someone out there has some experience, words of wisdom, advice that can help you all you need to do is ask.

3. It’s easy
I may be new to this whole social media thing but it can’t be this easy. I mean who doesn’t have time to read 140 character updates/posts/quotes about something that is your passion. If it links you a website or article then read that as well. Connecting has never been easier to do; whether it’s to people or information

4. People want to share
Not asking someone for help or not asking a question when we have one is a crime against ourself and humanity depending on the idea and outcome of that answer. You shouldn’t leave any rock unturned and with the sheer numbers on twitter someone out there has to know or point you in the right direction. We are more interconnected than ever in a multitude of ways and we need to gleam as much knowledge from this time as possible and turn it into a positive experience for all who are in our sphere of influence.

5. Give back to others
Similar to point #4 but we need to give back to the world. We can’t be just a world of consumers. We only get one chance and we should all want people to say at our funeral, he gave the most he could to the people around him/her.

I am still just a newb when it comes to PLN’s and all this social media, but check it out. Maybe I won’t wait 7 months before putting out a blog post next time