That “Age-Thing”…

reflections SMARTBoard workshops

“Cathy, Linda, Sharon, Connie, Brenda…”

I feel like I’m home when names like these show up on our Saturday workshop rosters.
And you find these names less and less often among the faculty pages on school district websites.
You see, attending these workshops says our guests are giving up a Saturday morning to spend it with us learning about technology.
A Saturday morning during the school year…
A Saturday free of grading, lesson plans, and “all things school” to spend it doing “more things school”…
They belong to my generation…and they are still excited and willing to learn new ways to teach and to make their teaching relevant for their students.

Shannon and I just returned from the 2009 NECC Conference in Washington, DC.  One session we sat in on was “Teaching Math Using SMART Technology”.
The session was excellent in that it was presented as a math lesson on plotting coordinates on a quadratic plane.
The demonstration was led by Michelle Meehan, a young 7th grade math teacher from Virginia with teachers pulled from the audience who had volunteered to be her students.
It was fun to watch someone else present and to see the excitement that was generated by a Notebook 10 lesson and the “How did you do that?” questions that followed.
A facilitator walked around and answered the questions, and several times she made comments that began, “If a 50+ person like me can do it, so can you!”

Anytime we have participants who are reluctant or afraid to use the technology, and use their age as an excuse, we, also, try to reassure them that one of their teachers is older than they are,
(and I always am.)
Often these people are not “old” at all; just afraid.

We recently presented at a school where the curriculum director had spent some time doing research on the connection between the age of teachers and their willingness to use technology in the classroom.
I was very interested in hearing the results of her research and was quick to inquire.

She found that the connection had nothing to do with age,
but had everything to do with the willingness of the teacher to step out of their comfort zone, (a.k.a. “The Box”) and to try to do whatever was necessary to get their kids to learn.

I was not surprised.Mom's Facebook Profile Picture

This summer we were fortunate to have a vistor to one of our sessions. My mother attended a beginning SMARTBoard workshop, and she was totally engaged by what she saw. Her comment to me was that, “This is so fascinating! If I were a young teacher, I would be at every one of these classes!”

Again, I was not surprised.

My mom just turned 80.
She was one of the first her age to use email.
She has been IM’ing ever since it was introduced and she “Skypes” and is on Facebook.

Thanks, Mom, for passing those genes down to Shannon and me…

Going Home


Today we had the privilege of presenting three workshops in Pana.

Why “Home”?
It was in this community that I had my “first classroom”.  Before teaching in Pana, I taught as a Reading Resource teacher in Mattoon, and as a Science, Art,
and Computer teacher in Shelbyville.  I had never had a “self-contained” classroom where I taught all subjects to one group of students.  I was between jobs, busy raising six children of our own, and teaching as a substitute whenever I could. One day I received a call from the principal at Sacred Heart School.  She had a position that had opened up because of a maternity leave, and would I please come the next day and “try us out”?  It was eighth grade.  I winced, but she convinced me to just come one day, and if I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t have to come back.  How do you say “No” to someone whose first name is “Sister”?
I stayed four years.
And they are filled with some of the happiest and best memories teaching.
The students…
How often does a teacher have the opportunity to teach eighth graders in a self-contained setting?
They were fun and funny…and they loved to learn.
They were enthusiastic about anything I offered as a challenge.
The parents…
Behavior problems were seldom an issue.  If they misbehaved in school, there were consequences at home, as well.  Christmas gifts arrived in the form of 
“home-made”, and usually ethnic. 
The community…
They embraced their members, and they would do anything to make you feel like one of their own.
That is how our workshop went today.
We were met at PHS by Scott, the IT specialist. To say that he loves his job, loves his teachers, loves his administrators, and loves Pana is an
understatement.  He had us up and running in only a matter of minutes.  He was very encouraging, and he was excited about what we were going to show his teachers.  “This is cool stuff.”
I’ll let Shannon tell you the rest…

Scott was truly a pleasure with which to work.  He has many big plans for Pana in the way of upgrading the capabilities for everyone associated with the school district.  I was truly impressed with his passion for making a great operating system “outstanding”.  It is awesome to be surrounded with other individuals in our field of work that have the same passion as we do regarding the use of technology within the classroom and beyond!
The sessions went very well, at least I think they did.  Teachers didn’t throw anything at us or give us the evil eye.  They were EXTREMELY quiet and seemed to be taking in all of the ideas that we were presenting for integrating technology into the classroom.  I don’t think it hurt that we passed around a little chocolate to keep their tastebuds happy during the presentation…but nonetheless. 
We have traveled to many schools in this area to present and Pana obviously has it figured out…what is “it” you ask?  EVERYONE attended our presentation…and I mean EVERYONE.  Every teacher, every administrator, as well as Scott.  “It” means that they are all on the same page regarding the technology integration within their district.  Now that doesn’t necessarily mean they liked all of our ideas, or will use all of our ideas.  But they all received the same information first hand which hopefully will generate some spark and discussion!  We couldn’t be more thrilled about that possibility.  For that we extend a huge THANK YOU.

My cell phone...We always try to include something we learn at each of our workshops.  So many times it is from our participants, each other, an IT specialist, or when we are just looking for an answer to a question.  As we were setting up our speakers, they made a little buzz that I often hear both at home, and from my car speakers as I drive, especially on my daily commute to school as I pass by one particular place every day. Shannon asked me about it and “name?” explained that it was my cell phone.  The phone was next to the speakers, and Scott asked if I had an AT&T phone.
He explained it’s known as the “GSM Buzz”, and it has to do with the way my cell phone communicates with the tower, and the way the GSM networks work. The
radio frequency in a GSM phone “pulses”, and it’s picked up by devices that aren’t shielded well. You don’t notice it on Verizon phones because they work on a CDMA network which operates on a spectrum that isn’t as audible. The pulse rate on my phone is in a spectrum that is easily heard. He also said it’s not a problem, but it just happens.

…and the best part?Queen of Texting
I explained this to my granddaughter, “Queen of the Cell Phone and All Things Texting”, and she, of course knew all about it.

As I was packing up our equipment at the end of the day, I looked up and saw this sign. It made me smile.

 The Card Catalog









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