11.27.2010

The Truth.

The truth?

You can't handle the truth!

I am sure the visions of the courtroom scene between a young Tom Cruise and the ageless Jack Nicholson reverberate through your mind - as they do mine.

However, this time it is public education on trial. The truth is tough to handle. You don't have what it takes to be an educator - period. I believe that this needs to be the new mindset of the education reform grassroots movement.

The time has come to lift the level of the teacher profession to a new status. Stop telling people that you can teach, stop promoting career change programs into education. I mean, I want to be a doctor - where is the teachers to doctors program? If this is not an acceptable practice, then why do we assume that if you can't do anything else... you should teach.

Our new mantra must be... You do not have what is takes to be an educator.

We need to be recruiting new, young talent into the ranks (how we do that is another discussion) of education right from the start. Stop funneling those who do not want to "do" their career or could not choose a major in college into our classrooms. We are doing damage to the system that is beyond repair.

The truth hurts. We need to be having tough conversations with potential candidates and (unfortunately) those already in the classroom and telling them - you do not have what it takes to be an educator.

To close - check out Taylor Mali's "What Teachers Make".

Disclaimer:
I understand that their are some career changers that are the most solid teachers in our student's classrooms. But, this post is for poopy teachers - no matter how you got there. However, society's belief is that teaching is easy and that anyone can do it... and this could not be farther from the truth.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

Giving Thanks.

I am thankful for family (a new baby in the next few days), thankful for opportunities, thankful for good health as well. But, for the sake of this post I want to focus on this...

I am thankful to be an educator.

The past two months have been some of the busiest of my life. I finished grad school (again) and my wife and I are expecting our first baby shortly. But, when I have some down time I have been keeping up with reading the work of so many passionate about public education in this country.

I also have been thinking about what to say for the Blogging for Real Reform challenge. And... I already realized that is what I have been blogging about for the past year. It makes me feel great to know that there are grassroots educators out there fighting the good fight.

I hope that you will read through some of my posts and see what I have to offer to the discussion.

I also encourage you to read the work of other educators that I am thankful for:

These are the guys that inspire me to write and continue to fight for what is best for my students - always. I am so thankful for their wisdom and musings. Whatever you think that you can do for this movement - do it. Write, read, blog, debate, discuss, teach, serve, just do it.

I am thankful to be an educator.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org.

11.15.2010

Priorities.

A month and a half. That is how long it has been since I last wrote.

I have had a lot on the plate with a myriad of professional developments, a baby on the way, and the homestretch of graduate school. And with the close of Education Nation timed with my last blog post - I have had lots on my mind.

I read a lot. Blog posts that is. My Google Reader is slammed packed each and every day with the passionate musings of those in the edublogosphere. I just have not had time to empty my brain.

Over the past few months it seems as though the debate about education reform has heated up. I disagree, I just believe that it has been brought to the mainstream as of late. Whether in my grad classes, talking to colleagues, or surfing the Web... I have had many discussions centered around what needs to change in schools NOW.

The answer is simple. The educator.

The public educational system in the United States needs to "clean house". I do not care about the tenure debate. The fact of the matter is that across this country right now there are educators in front of students that do not belong. In fact I will say that they are doing more harm than they do good... period.

No matter what reforms we discuss, no matter what programs we implement, no matter how great our edtech ideas are... these educators will never have a handle on one of the toughest professions there is. I do not care what your passion is with regard to education - this must become our priority. This must become our national priority.

Without this "clean house" approach - nothing else matters.

This is what I have been thinking about. I would also beckon all others with a voice to call for the same. Take a break from your other blogging topics and speak on this.

This is "our" priority.

More to come (soon)...

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org.


Image Source: add1sun

9.29.2010

If Not Us - Who?

This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions stemming from watching NBC's coverage of Education Nation, having tough conversations with colleagues, reading the blogs of others, and also living out a career in a "turnaround" model school.

I am fearful of the demise of public education in this country. I believe that even with all of the circus with Education Nation this past week - that education will once again fall by the wayside. But, the honest truth is that it can't. If it does public education will be in a state of peril.

You see, I work is a school that is in trouble. We are not in a downtown urban setting, but rather in one of the biggest tourist destination in the country. We are a school that has adopted one of the federal differentiated accountability models, also known as a "turnaround". But, I fear that the focus is not on the  dire need to reform what we are doing in these schools. We talk charters all the time - but, with 2000 students at our school, where are these students going to go. We must educate these students in these buildings. However, reform is not the correct option - we need to "blow it up" and begin all over again with the design of these schools.

It must begin with a topic discussed this week - tenure. The need to eliminate the educators who do nothing for our students is crucial to the success of these schools. We have them - others have them, and they need to go. We need to put quality educators in these classrooms and use some of the models that are working. Models like SLA, and so may others. Designing institutions that focus on student learning - nothing else - must be our mission. We need to flood these schools with resources including technology.

I know that this post is all over the place - but that is where my mind is right now.

The time for talking is over... action is what is needed now. I am doing my part and will graduate in December with my administrator certification - putting myself in a position to begin to influence the system. It is time for all of us, educators to stand up and take control of the system. While this will not happen overnight, it needs to happen.

It is our job to make sure that these schools and this system do not fail. I will pose a question to you as well. If not us - who?

What are you going to do?

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org.

9.22.2010

Cheat, Cheat - Never Beat

Today in class, as I often do, caught a student copying work for another class. It got me to thinking...

What are our students getting from the work that we assign them?

Assignments that can be copied and done in a few minutes during the class period prior to being turned in have zero affect on student learning. The student not only missed instruction in my classroom, but also got nothing from the assigned work.

The bigger question is whether we should give homework that is "copiable".

I understand that there may be the occasional assignment or subject where this may be unavoidable. However, homework assignments that can simply be copied are not effective. Students need to be creating original work that requires them to think at high levels. This concept is really tough for some to grasp.

Some educators may argue the point that the student is cheating and should be penalized. These same educators would give no thought to the assessment itself and whether it was a valid assignment to begin with. The truth is that if we give "copiable" assignments we are just as guilty as the student. They are cheating - but we too are cheating. We are cheating students of learning - and you know what they say...

Cheat, cheat - never beat.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org.

9.08.2010

Now Hiring... Instructional Leaders

I am banishing the word administrator from my vocabulary with regard to public education.

Now hiring... instructional leaders.

The day and age of the instructional leader (the leader formerly known as the principal) sitting in an office and dealing with finances and other decision making alone are over. Today's educators and educational institutions are in need of innovative instructional leaders. Those who leave one foot in the classroom not matter how far removed they may actually be.

We (public education) need instructional leaders who are collaborating with teachers and students in their buildings to make the best decisions for the students. We often tote around the company line of "do it for the kids" - an empty goal that in turn goes ignored when decisions are made at the district, state, or federal level. The time for leaders with stagnant ideas who occupy the big chair for years on end are over - as in done.

Now hiring... instructional leaders.

Educators need leaders in their schools (especially the lowest performing schools) that model what to do, not dictate what to do. I have often wondered how many leaders charged with turning around or leading schools can outperform me in the classroom. The answer is probably far too low. That is what I want - in fact, it is what we must have. Instructional leaders that can instruct, develop, and nurture teacher and students alike are what we need.

I aspire to become one of these leaders and I know that they are out there already leading some great schools. If you are one of them - share your message and skills with others. We are not looking for leaders who are not interested in "doing it for the kids".

Now hiring... instructional leaders.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org

Tweet, Tweet!

I am making a solid push to grow my PLN (personal learning network) and Twitter is going to be my vehicle for sure.

I also wanted to let you know that I will be reaching out to collaborate on assignments for my students from time to time. I will be looking for some higher level, provocative questions for my students to blog about. The concept is not mine, I have to attribute that to Shelly Blake-Plock, the man behind the curtain over at TeachPaperless. So, of your not PLNing, or your not on Twitter - join in the conversation now. I promise that you will thank me for it.

Tweet, tweet.

For more on the power of the PLN, check out my post from last month. If you want to follow me you can find me in the Twittersphere @innovateed.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org


Twitter Birdie icon by Arrioch

9.04.2010

The Write Thing to Do.

My wife and I were out to dinner the other evening and we did what we always do... and discussed work.

You see, my wife and I are both educators. As most educators will tell you it is tough to not talk shop when around other educators. This night's conversation was the same as always - shooting around ideas about how to improve our practice to benefit our students. So, as dinner (and discussion) progressed we came to a conclusion...

We are going to do the write thing.

We (my wife and I) are going to begin work on a book. We both teach secondary and notice the lack of resources for teachers at this level... other than the myriad of work published by an amazing community of educators on the Interweb. However, educators need a "gateway" to get there. So, we are going to write a guide for secondary teachers - somewhere along the lines of a field manual for educators.

The rest of 2010 is going to be action packed here at Innovate Education. We look forward serving educators with quality professional development, developing a mini conference in Central Florida (inspired by the work of Chris Lehmann), and working to publish a book.

I also hope to contribute more meaningful musings to this blog.

More to come...

Michael Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit: www.innovateedu.org

8.31.2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to the Innovate Education, LLC. blog!

We are one year old this month. I am so happy to say that I am beginning to grow an audience on this blog. You have no idea how privileged I feel to be able to write for others in the education community.

I wrote a post back in February about a bad habit that I had - checking Clustr Maps on my blog WAY too often. Back in February I had gained 366 readers in 6 months...

Six months later, I am proud to say the almost 1,000 people have visited the blog. I look forward to the next 1,000 very much! Thanks for your support.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed


For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit: www.innovateedu.org

8.29.2010

What's Our "Company Line"?

What is our [public education's] company line?

I know in my experience it has always been: "It's about the kids."

Is it really though? You know, about the kids? We are a week deep this school year, and I have tell you that I love this job. However, I am realizing how much demand is really on the educators in my school. From extensive professional development to detailed lesson plans, the demands and requirements are intense. So, where do the kids fit?

I am realizing that even with all the demands that do not directly impact the interaction between myself and my students, I am going to focus on my students first. The rest of the "stuff" will come later.

"It's about the kids."

Actually, it is bigger that just that. I am going to take the company line further than ever this year. I am going to answer the company line of the people that should be running the company. You know, Chris Lehmann, called for action earlier this summer. We need more people like Chris to tow the company line.

You know Chris actually believes in the company line; "It's about the kids."

Lehmann is the principal of SLA in Philly, and travels the country speaking about school 2.0. Chris' idea of being about the kids is to totally redesign schooling to be about the kids. Schools today are not designed to be about the kids. We are too caught up in the system - failing schools, less qualified teachers, standardized testing, narrowing the curriculum - for "it" to be about the kids.

When Chris made the call for action I wasn't sure if I could do anything. But, you know what - I can. I want to organize an Educon of my own, answering Chris's call. I advise others to do the same. It is important... in fact more important than anything else that we [educators] can do right now.

To make it about the kids, it will require a grassroots effort. Excellent educators that call on others and take charge of making change in their communities. Making it "about the kids."

I am going to take the next month to think about how I can make change. I will keep you updated of my thoughts, ideas, and questions here. I also want to leave you with one question...

What's your company line going to be?

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org

8.15.2010

The Power of the PLN

So, with tomorrow marking the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, I wanted to take a moment to thank my PLN [Personal Learning Network]. And... to tell you that if you don't have one - get one.

I am really looking forward to this school year and putting the changes that were inspired by my PLN into practice. I will tell you that the changes, ideas, and inspirations that I gained from reading, writing, and collaborating were more than I could have receive in ten summers of professional development workshops.

Below I am going to list a few of the changes that will be seen in my classes and then I will discuss the people that you should add to your PLN... now!

My class will see:

  • Crowd-sourced syllabi and student expectations
  • Student blogging
  • Twitter student network
  • Parent hub using Google Sites
  • Student instructional cell phone use
  • Wikis for fast information
  • Revamped assessments/grading policy
All of these ideas evolved from the ideas from my PLN. Now I will tell you that I did not do as good a job as I should have. In fact, my PLN was rather one-sided. This school year I look forward to opening up the conversation from both sides and offering contributions to the PLN. 

Today, through the use of Twitter, blogs, and many more social technologies you can connect with educators all over the world in seconds.

The personal learning network has forced me to grow as an educator more than any other outside force that I have encountered. I encourage you to get involved in the conversation now - the power of the PLN will take you and your students far. This school year I will also be pushing my colleagues to get involved in the conversation. This will only make us better educators, and have a direct impact on our students.

Okay, now for those of you who are going to get started... here are the people that I would recommend. These educators are contributing so much to the conversation. Now, it is your turn to get involved in the conversation.

I hope that you take some time out as we all begin to head back to school and that you join the conversation. I look forward to collaborating with you there.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit:www.innovateedu.org

8.01.2010

Tough Conversations... Have Them! Part II

Man oh man!

This weekend I stumbled upon Joe Bower and his blog. The man is doing some mind altering educational reforms within his classroom walls in Canada. He has some amazing ideas and methodologies that will create a neuron party inside your head.

Are you ready for this?

You had better sit down...

Joe Bower wants us to abolish grading! That's right - abolish grading... period. Talk about reform.

Now pedagogy that calls for the removal of the grading system from education may at first seem - oh, I don't know... insane! But, if you give Mr. Bower's site a read - he will dazzle you with some food for thought. For those who read this blog, you know I am beginning a journey of research with the 50 Point Project. But this abolition of grading is just blowing the doors off of my concept - man oh man!

He forces us to rethink assessment...

When assessment becomes more about covering your own ass in fear of being held accountable and less about student learning, we fail our children in more ways than we would like to ever admit.

Now I am not saying that I agree with Joe's work or his philosophy, nor am I saying that I do not. What I do know is that Joe has inspired me to have more of the tough conversations with my colleagues this upcoming school year.

We are the leaders of tomorrow's schools and if we do not have these tough conversations, who will?

Without these conversations, public education will continue on the path of the status quo. Thanks to Joe Bower and other reformers in the movement - thanks so much. Thanks so much for forcing me to have these tough conversations that will make me a better educator.

More (conversations) to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit: www.innovateedu.org

7.31.2010

Tough Conversations... Have Them!

The Dangerously Irrelevant author, Scott McLeod called upon edubloggers to write for Leadership Day 2010. To be honest, I almost didn't write this blog post because things have been so busy throughout July, hence the lack of blog posts.

But, the ideas, concepts, and motivations of the thousands involved in the School 2.0 movement are too important to ignore. So, I write.

This past week I had the opportunity to get the ear of the superintendent of my school district. This is a very rare feat, as I work for a school district serving about 70,000 students. The topic of instructional technology came up, and I was encouraged.

We discussed the importance of what Chris Lehmann always speaks about... making technology like oxygen - invisible. I discussed with him the need to not just implement technology, rather make it an everyday piece of what we "do". Conversations entailed topics about our student's use of technology - from cell phones to ipods to ipads to netbooks. I discussed with him that our students need access to the technologies that they are exposed to outside of school. (Something that our district blocks - Internet censorship from GoogleDocs to Facebook, no cell phones, etc...)

I discussed what I believe is our responsibility to educate these students on the technologies they use. Students misuse these technologies because there is no room in the curriculum for us to teach and incorporate the appropriate use of these tools. Something that I told the superintendent is vital to the success of creating the 21st C. citizen.

So, on Leadership Day 2010, I had a conversation with my leader. Just as Scott McLeod did, I encourage you to have these conversations with your leaders. The movement begins with us. Initiate change.

Happy Leadership Day 2010!

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit: www.innovateedu.org

6.29.2010

Best of...

Innovate Education has quite a few new readers these days. You have no idea how much I appreciate the audience, and also how you all enable me to live in my educational dream.

Since the pick up in other educators interest... I thought that I would post some of my oldies. In my opinion, these are some of my best pieces... ones that I am proud of. As I reflect, I have seen how my writing has changed, and I want to get back to the "oldie" style. I have used these pieces as a source of self-reflection - I hope you will use them to tell someone else about this blog, or be inspired to begin you own.

Being the "D"

What Are We Doing?

Chivalry is Dead.

Respect.

Delivering Meaning

Standardi-Nation

Getting Left in the Chalk Dust

Hitting Refresh

Enjoy.

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

6.28.2010

Textbooks Schmextbooks

Been working some math lately. (Yes I have a headache.)

I am going for an interview later this week for a curriculum position at the district level. The job is overseeing the curriculum for social studies in middle and secondary schools in my district. Our district is fairly large, serving about 53,000 students.

In my interview prep, I wanted to be able to drop some bombs with regard to reforms in the interview. My big point is going to be about textbooks... getting rid of them. That's right I said it. Stop social studies textbook adoptions immediately and focus on bringing SS classrooms to a one to one. Here is my math that I have been using.

We enroll just over 24k (24,104) students in middle and high school. If we purchase textbooks for all of these students (we actually purchase more, since many students are enrolled in more than one SS classes) it would run the district about...

$1.6 million... based on a $70 textbook.

I say, textbooks schmextbooks!

We purchase texts for social studies every five years. Why? In the district's 163 social studies classrooms we could go one to one with netbooks for about...

$1.2 million... based on a $300 netbook. This is the bomb I am going to drop in my interview. We should stop textbook adoptions and put the capital into technology and professional development to implement that technology. The craziest part is that it would shave about $400k from the district budget.

Wow.

Any thoughts? Or any other ideas for the interview?

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

Real World Education


So, it's been a while... again. Trying not to make this a habit.

Have been working the past two weeks with a group of high schoolers, taking them on trips to local colleges and universities in the Central Florida area. This past Thursday we visited Full Sail University, a college for entertainment, media and arts. Their motto is powerful, yet simple.

Full Sail. Real World Education.

Their motto has inspired this post. The school is simple from the outside, basically looks like a large office building. But inside, the school is built for real world education. The interior of building, depending on whether you're in the film, music or animation production areas is an eclectic mix of wood and steel. Amazing designs are present throughout, Full Sail is after all an "art" school. Students find recording studios, a working backlot, concert venue, television studios and sound stages... all mixed among classrooms.

Why can't we replicate what Full Sail has, but in a high school setting? I am not talking the specifics, but the openness of the design of the school. Students work to help other programs, a true cross curricular learning environment. It is not about money, its about taking the time to demand a quality design for schools. Our schools already cost extraordinary amounts of money, but with not originality in design. (In fact, my current school district has built the last three high schools from the same plans. Ha!)

Full Sail has a lot to teach us about school design, openness and student driven learning. I will keep this in mind when I reach the big chair, hopefully in a role to design a new school.

Thanks Full Sail!

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.

6.09.2010

Welcome to the "Hood"

A long time ago Shelly Blake-Plock over at TeachPaperless posted a great blog about his classroom design. You know there is a lot that a classroom says about students, educators and what goes on in there. With regard to Shelly's class... well, I wish I could be a student there.

It's simple really. It's all about the student. It's all about the learning.

So, here is my "hood"... welcome. What does it say to you?





















More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

Hitting Refresh

Well tomorrow is the last day of final exams. That means that it is time to hit refresh and get ready for next year. There has been quite a bit happening the past few weeks, so it has been tough to write. It feels good though to get some thoughts out of the mind.

I have been keeping up with my reading on Google Reader, and lots has been going on. So much so, that I have been overwhelmed with ideas to incorporate into the classroom for next year. Much of my past month has also been in meetings and PLCs with colleagues... and I came to a realization. There are lots of educators teaching in 2010, that are just not willing to self-reflect and make changes to their teaching.

It has made me sad to see just how many out there do not self-reflect at the end of the year. Isn't this the key to adapting to meet the needs of your students?

Today's educators must be willing to be outside the box thinkers, who are creating dynamic lessons that are student driven. There are so many people out there giving us the resource to help us in this quest. Check my blogroll for just a few. Educators who are doing amazing things.

Me myself, I am giving my classes a facelift and tummy tuck... making major changes to assessment and also how I create syllabi (thanks to TeachPaperless). I am rethinking the exam process, and actually rethinking whether a multiple choice "traditional" exam has any business showing it's face in our classrooms. I am thinking not.

However, as I make these changes and reflect on the year, many more don't. I think that it is time that those of us on the fence to step up and become the catalyst for reform and self-reflection in our own schools.

It is time to hit refresh.

So, my question to you. What are your going to hit "refresh" on this summer?

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

5.11.2010

Holy Cow!

Today I was perusing my Google Reader, catching up from the past couple of days... and then it hit me, HOLY COW!

I had just watched a YouTube video on a post from Richard Byrne over at Free Tech for Teachers. (If you're not hooked into his RSS feed you are missing out!) The video came by way of another amazing edtech @AngelaMaiers. Before we continue, I must implore you to take the next 4 minutes and 25 seconds to view this vid... then commence reading this blog post.



Holy cow! Right? I mean, I have seen the Shift Happens vids, but this hit home more. We are missing out on a "teachable moment" with our students by way of social media. I have addressed this topic more and more recently. Maybe it has been part out of frustration, but I believe it is mainly about my belief in instructional technology that enhances our teaching.

Byrne points out in his post something he too has addressed prior... we are cheating these students by banning the technologies that they use the most. I mean it would be the equivalent of banning Suzie's pen and pencil back in the 1950s. That was an essential form of communication back then. Today though, we have banned all methods of communication that our students use on a daily, hourly, minutely (*not a word) basis. Schools are eliminating these tools, instead of teaching responsible use.

We wonder why our students do not email? The answer is simple. We never taught them how to. Schools did not embrace the email fad, now our students are void of this skill. Schools need to adapt their policies, and us our methods as we meet our students and collaborate with them in using these technologies that are changing the way they we "do" our lives.

Holy cow!

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

5.07.2010

New Look!

Well the time has come for an overhaul of the Innovate Education blog. This is the first step in preparation to launching a few professional development workshops this summer. This will officially begin my trek into the world of educational consulting (part-time, of course).

It is an exciting time for me. I am looking forward to sharing even more of my ideas and experiences with all of those who read this blog. We are excited about our new look and even more excited about what is still yet to come.

Any advice to those in the field will be welcomed. Thanks.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

5.01.2010

Censorcation!

Nick Sauer recently posted a piece on his blog 1:1 Schools, asking a basic, but important question:

"How can we trust our teachers with our students, but not the Internet?"

Sauer's post really made me reflect on my own situation and the battles that a few of us have been fighting with the district. In my county and school we practice what I call Censorcation, with regards to Web 2.0 technologies. It really is a censorship that China would be proud of.

Let's see, gone are Facebook, GoogleDocs, Gmail, Google Chrome, Flickr, Google Images, Yahoo! Images, Twitterfall... and many, many more.

We are so afraid to let our students use these technologies in the classroom. However, the students are not the issue (well a few are). But rather, administrators and districts alike must hold educators and students accountable for their actions and abuses of the Acceptable Use Policies. Some educators get a laptop cart and just pass out the computers... with no structure, no lesson. Well, of course there are going to be abuses of the Internet. Is the problem the Internet, or the teachers who does a disservice to his/her students, with or without technology?

It is frustrating, especially after answering the call of educators such as those at TeachPaperless, of going paperless in the classroom. We cannot block the world through Censorcation from our students. Those who misuse these powerful learning tools (teacher or student) must be held accountable.

But most important... don't penalize the masses because of the actions of the few. Pretty please.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

4.28.2010

[Super] Earth Day

I finally have a bit of time to reflect on my Earth Day project that I completed with my students. I pledged to go paperless on Earth Day through Shelly Blake-Plock's edublog TeacherPaperless. It was an amazing idea and caught absolute fire with educators around the globe. Kudos to Shelly.

My 130 + students decided that we were not going to go paperless for just Earth Day, but rather the remainder of the year. We discussed a plan and then put that plan into action. My students and I were able to take a laptop cart that had been abandoned by most at the school due to the operating issue of the machines, which are about six years old. We spent the next few weeks leading up to Earth Day repairing and cleaning the machines up after school.

On April 22, we launched our own computer lab in my classroom. It was a project that all of us had a hand in. Now we are able to be 1:1 for the remainder of the school year, contributing our share through quite a few weeks of "paperless" education. I am proud of this endeavour and look forward to working in a 1:1 environment with my students.

More importantly I thank TeachPaperless and the movement that will hopefully become a long standing tradition. It was a super Earth Day for us. My students learned a great lesson and I am glad to have been a part of it.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

4.27.2010

50, the New Zero!

Usually I am not sure of opinion on educational reform movements. Well, I need some help on this one.

I am working on some research on the 50 point minimum grading scale. I am reluctant to tackle this because I am not really sure how I feel about this form of assessment. If you want to read more about it, you can do so here. Long story short, you use 50 points as the minimum (to replace the zero) as the lowest grade a student can earn.

I proposed this concept to my faculty and I now have a test group of about 25 teachers. This is representative of about 25% of the faculty at my school. We will be rolling this assessment out in the 2010-11 school year and will hit the ground running with the research.

So, wanted to ask this. There are so many "outside-the-box" thinkers in the edublogosphere and I really want to know your thoughts. Do you uses this system? What are your thoughts on this system? What are you doing for assessment in the form of grading?

Help me.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed.com

Shame, Shame!

It's been over a month since my last post to this blog. Shame on me. I will tell you I have been busy over the past weeks honeymooning, writing some professional development, graduate school (again), and working on the day job... educating.

I will tell you that although I have not been doing a lot of writing, I have been doing quite a bit of reading. You have got to get on board with Google Reader if you have not already done so - it makes tearing through all my favorite edublogs so much easier. Lots of great material out there. Check out my blogroll for some suggestions on where to begin.

As for me, I will begin to write again. Every time I sit down at the keyboard I realize how much I have to say. Thanks for listening.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

3.22.2010

How Much For All These Pencils?

It's been almost twenty days. Standardization season was upon us here in Florida as we administered the FCAT Exams. It gets busy, busy... not to mention crazy at school. So, I am finally sitting down and collecting my thoughts and tearing through my mile-long "to do" list.

After my four days of proctoring the exam, I had but one question...

How much for all these pencils?

We provide pencils for the 1.7 million students that take this exam each year in the State of Florida. This is what goes through my mind as I watch these students traverse through this standardized exam. After a bit of research, I was able to find a figure for FCAT spending here in Florida. We are looking at about $28.4 million - with about $170k going to the purchase of pencils... yes, pencils.

I am a believer in standards and accountability. But, is this the way we need to go about it? Spending $28 + million to have students take the exam seems like money wasted. Why not put the money into the recruitment and hiring of qualified educators? Why not put the money into 1:1 initiatives? Why not put the money into the education (not the assessment) of our students?

So... how much for all these pencils?

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

flickr photo by hownowdesign

3.03.2010

Getting Left in the [Chalk] Dust

I have been mulling over this post for the last few days. Actually, I have been mulling this post for years, I just didn't know it. I thank Dr. Scott McLeod for triggering this blog of epic importance. 

Recently an article from the Orlando Sentinel and a post from Dr. McLeod on his blog rebutting the article have helped me in getting this post out of my head. I teach for a Central Florida school district neighboring the district discussed in the Sentinel's piece. The issues of whether using social media has been an ongoing debate down here for a while. The Central Florida area, as well as many others throughout the country has unfortunately had its bout with student-teacher inappropriate relationships.

The question is this: is the problem the technology, or the educator?

Blaming technology is not the answer. Instead school boards need to focus their attention on supervision of their educators to ensure that they are professional in their educational responsibilities. These educators will misuse whatever relationship they have with their students, whether it be digital, via text message, or face-to-face. Holding an entire generation of students hostage from 2.0 technologies because a few bad, bad people misuse them is not the answer. Teach responsibility, not just to students, but to educators as well.

The district that I work for has locked down technology because of the misuses and abuses of educators who were careless. We currently use Moodle and Gaggle... and that is all. We have no access to blogs, social networking, Google Apps for Education and other phenomenal technologies because they fear their use. Is this really what we want for our tech-savvy students?

Or, are we getting left in the [chalk] dust?

I would love to hear opinions, suggestions and discussion on how we can change this mindset.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

2.27.2010

Prezi: David Warlick Was Right.

I know that many people have blogged about Prezi, the cloud based presentation tool. I first learned about it from David Warlick, back in May 2009. I must admit, it has been life changing (well, at least classroom changing).

I just wanted to post a presentation that I recently completed for my grad class. The topic was any multicultural issue that we wanted to address. So, I made one up... [Un]education - or, the lack of worldwide education. Enjoy, and be sure to check out Prezi.

2.24.2010

Bad Habit

So, I am still trying to decide if having the ClustrMaps widget on my blog is a good idea. I have formed a terrible habit of checking it regularly (more than once a day even though I know it only updates once every 24 hours, yikes!).

However, I then refer to the likes of Andrew B Watt (998 visits this month and counting...); Shelly Blake-Plock over at TeachPaperless (59,077 hits since May 09... what!?); nashworld and his great commentary (7,378 in just under one year); and one of my faves David Warlick and his 2 cents (30,143, don't know since when, but something to shoot for nonetheless!)...

... and it is hard not to compare. My meager blog rings in at a whopping 366 visits since Sep 2009. So, is this a bad habit, or just motivation? I'm still trying to sort it out.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin@gmail.com
twitter.com/innovateed

2.22.2010

What's the Answer?

That's the question left in my mind after reading two great pieces today. First, my dilemma... the technology people in my district are battling the use of any classroom 2.0 technology they cannot control. 

This leads me to the piece written by Karl Fisch over at the Fischbowl, Google Apps for Education: Is It the Right Choice for Our Students? He questions whether school control over technology applications is the answer, and brings up some great points while doing so. 


"If we want them to be safe, effective and ethical users of the Internet, let's not create a semi-walled (and only temporary) garden that limits their ability to learn, create, publish, distribute and interact. How about instead of spending all this time and effort setting up and managing Google Apps for Education, we spend it teaching our students how to responsibly use the full suite of Google Apps themselves?"


Fisch brings up what I believe is the answer - hold ourselves responsible and educate ours students on the proper ways to use and manage these new technologies. This is what they'll be doing - or are doing in the real world anyhow.

What I envision is giving our students limitless free web 2.0 technologies and teaching them how to use them responsibly in productive manners. This would lead to them being able to create without the walls that Fisch discusses. After all, I think that we are all outside-the-box educators.

A great example of what is going on that I envy is Shelly Blake-Plock's work with his 9th grade students. Shelly writes TeachPaperless, and blogged about his new project here. You can find his class blog, called the Western Civ Project here.

So... back to my question - what is the answer?

In the next week I will be meeting with the head of our county's technology initiatives (hoping to influence an answer) and I would love some more thoughts... any ideas? I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

More to come...

Mike Meechin


flickr photo by Max F. Williams

2.18.2010

Researching 2.0

A few weeks ago, Richard Byrne over at Free Tech for Teachers, posted a great piece [Textbooks, Wikipedia, and Primary Source Research] on the use, reliability and validity of Wikipedia. I was inspired  by the post and replicated the activity in my classroom this past week. I presented the lesson as a challenge to the students. I am a teach-against-the-textbook educator anyhow, and challenged them to challenge the text. We also explored the validity of the Wikipedia articles they were researching.

I also took Byrne's advice and followed up with a GoogleDocs assignment. Using GoogleDocs Forms the assignment was so easy to assess. This truly was a great piece of web 2.0 technology to bring into the classroom.

The assignment turned out amazing. We discussed how my student's teachers were slamming Wikipedia in their classes. I was surprised at how their teachers were telling them no Wikipedia, but giving them no direction on where else to go on the Internet. This is where I know that I fall behind other educators. Often we assume that our students (especially high school level) know how to research. However, when we take away one of the best pieces of information, at least a starting point for research, where will they go? This is a question that so many of my fellow bloggers are addressing with new classroom 2.0 technologies.

What's your answer for where students should go to research?
----
Click here to link to the Google Form that I used to assess my students on this activity.

More to come...

Mike Meechin
www.innovateeducation.com
mike.meechin@gmail.com

1.27.2010

Standardi-Nation: When Enough is Enough


Standardization. Enough is enough.

This is a personal tale about my life as a high school teacher in Central Florida. It is based on a true story.

Recently, our administrative team came to my department with another "hand-me-down" from the school district personnel and the state DOE. This time the topic was: board configuration. Yes, as in whiteboard... the standardization of whiteboard configuration. (Whew! That was a mouthful.)

The district and DOE now want the educators in our school to configure their boards in exactly the same way. They have outlined in a nifty PowerPoint exactly how this is to be done. The reasoning I am guessing is to ensure that inadequate educators do what quality educators do in their own way. The problem is that they are sucking the education and creativity right out the door. I can only take so much, as I mentioned in my post titled, I Have a Dream.

The DOE has outlined nine criteria that are supposed to be on our boards in their configuration for the secondary level. The worst part is that I teach in a classroom that has an LCD, SmartBoard, SmartReview clickers, I blog, use Twitter and yet the DOE is obsessed with me delivering content through the good ole' fashioned... whiteboard. So much for classroom 2.0!

Thanks for letting me vent.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue and what you are encountering in your classroom.

More to come...

Mike Meechin
www.innovateeducation.com
mike.meechin@gmail.com

1.17.2010

I Have a Dream...

With the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow I figured that the title was fitting. Just as MLK did 60 years ago, I too have a dream.

My dream comes from my failure to believe in the system of public education any further. I blogged about several examples in 2009 of factors that are leading to the demise of our public education system (What Are We Doing; Chivalry is Dead). Now, I have hit the end of the road in my belief in the system I have taught in for seven years.

In my post Traversing the Information Gap, I wrote:
"My fear is for my high school students post-graduation. Where will they ever get this information that they have missed? Our schools are not designed as a whole to produce independent critical thinkers..."

The answer to my question is not in our current school systems. Albeit, some schools do a good job with traditional education, others can not even handle that. However, I have a dream...

I discussed at the beginning of 2010 that I would look for Direction. I believe through my dream that I have finally found my direction. The answer to the question that I posed is what Chris Lehmann discusses in School 2.0... the next generation of school in the United States and all over the world. The fact that there are these innovate educators going outside the standard schooling is so exciting to me. You can find Lehmann's blog at his Pratical Theory. Chris is the founding principal of the Science and Leadership Academy in Philly. SLA is doing some exciting things right now in the world of School 2.0...

I no longer believe in the system. The next step for me in professional journey is to create an alternative solution to standard schooling. Along the way I will bring my struggles, questions, and ideas here to this forum to share with you in addition, to my educational and technology contributions.

This is my dream. This is my direction.

More to come...

Mike Meechin
www.innovateeducation.com
mike.meechin@gmail.com

1.10.2010

Delivering Meaning

I recently had a conversation... well, several conversations with other educational professionals about homework. In fact, homework has been a topic of PLCs at my school several times this year.

We always end up in the same place with the same question. What is MEANINGFUL homework? However, this is not the debate I want to have. You can debate that question with your own colleagues. This question did make me think though. It made me think about how all of these classroom 2.0 technologies can help us to deliver meaning with our homework assignments.

I think that we all can agree that the days of worksheet and "busy" homework are over (and if you don't agree you may want to reconsider reading this blog). Through the use of classroom 2.0 tech we can create many meaningful homework assignments for our students. Today we have the ability to have our students embrace technology to collaborate with each other using GoogleDocs. Students can work to create "living" posters with Glogster. Students can access any type of information they need... and it is all right at their fingertips.

Well I guess I will get into the debate a little...

Educators must embrace these classroom 2.0 technologies to create meaningful homework for their students. Delivering meaning is a key ingredient that we sometimes miss in the madness of "standardization". We must use these technologies to create homework that allows our students to think, create, write and... well, the sky is the limit. Our students need this... they need us to deliver meaning more than ever!

So, I challenge you. I challenge you to deliver meaning.

Notes:
If you need a place to begin your quest, any of the links on my blogroll can help you out tremendously. Also check out my post about #edchat or head on over to Twitter and check out the #edchat hashtag. This is an educational technology buffet.

I plan to create a place where educators can share their meaningful homework assignments. Follow me on Twitter to find out when.

More to come...

Mike Meechin
www.innovateeducation.com
mike.meechin@gmail.com

1.03.2010

#EdChat

I wanted to share with you something that I stumbled upon over my two week break from the classroom. A group of educators connect with each other on Tuesdays through Twitter... this event is known as #edchat. The name of the group is also the twitter hashtag [click here to find out what a hashtag is] for this group.

You can join the discussion that occurs on Tuesdays at 12pm EDT and 7pm EDT. Usually a day or two prior they will post a poll where you are able to vote on the topic for that particular week. You can follow @web20classroom on Twitter to find the link to the #edchat poll each week, or just to find out other great information about Web 2.0.

This week I am going to participate in my first #edchat and am hoping this week's topic will be classroom management techniques - ones that work and others that do not. Which brings me to the other point... a great read! Over the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of reading "What Great Teachers Do Differently", and it has been a great refresher about what being a great educator is all about. I would highly recommend this read for any educator whether your first day or twentieth year.

I want to thank Sean Nash over at nashworld, for mentioning this book in one of his blog posts. [You should check his blog out - some great food for thought.]

After reading Whitaker's work I have some great discussion points that I want to put to use... hopefully on Tuesday in #edchat. I hope that you check out the blog, the book and most importantly... the #edchat.

More to come...

Mike Meechin
www.innovateeducation.com
mike.meechin@gmail.com

1.02.2010

Direction.

Happy New Year.

It has been some time since I have posted to my blog. In October life got busy and it took some time to play catch up. That is why I have decided to title my first post of 2010, Direction.

While trying to figure out my professional new year resolutions, I tried to focus on a direction. Here are my resolutions for the new year:

  • Build a readership of education professionals that are interested in outside the box education
  • Share my ideas, experiences and reflections with fellow educators around the world
  • Focus on Classroom 2.0 technologies and their integration into our classrooms
  • Find a direction for my writing and contribute regularly to this blog
These are just a few professional goals that I hope to work on in 2010. In addition I am launching my consulting company, Innovate Education, LLC. I will be contributing to this blog weekly, most likely with a regular post on Sundays. Please join me on this journey in 2010 as I explore education and my direction.

More to come.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
www.innovateeducation.com
mike.meechin@gmail.com