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Looking Forward to a New Challenge July 29, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Uncategorized.
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Today is the last day that I will be in the office as the Director of Federal Programs and Curriculum for the Paris School District.

I will still be representing Paris at the ASTA Educator’s Technology Conference in Rogers, Arkansas this Thursday and Friday.  In fact, I will be presenting Friday morning.  My topic will be “Take your PLC Global.”

That will be the last official duty that I perform as a Paris School District employee.  As of Monday morning, I will be the Director of Technology Integration for Bentonville Public Schools in Bentonville, Arkansas.

I am really excited about the opportunity but will miss the great folks that I’ve worked with and for at Paris.

I’m sure that I will be extremely busy as I transition to the new position but I intend to keep this blog alive.  I’ve learned a great deal through this entire process and look forward to making as many posts as I can while I continue to strive for professional development.

In conclusion, good bye to all the fine folks in Paris.  It’s been a great six years.  Thanks.

Google Apps, Here We Come June 16, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Administration/Leadership, Resources & Information, Technology Integration.
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Plans are underway now for the Paris School District to become a Google Apps school and I couldn’t be more excited.

I know that we’ll have lots of growing pains and there will be some issues that we haven’t thought about, but I believe that any bumps in the road will be completely overshadowed by the awesome suite of collaboration tools that Google Apps has to offer.

Before I go any farther, I would like to take a moment to say how much I appreciate working for our Superintendent, Jim Loyd.  Obviously, he makes all of the final decisions on changes like this and without his support and progressive thinking, our technology integration efforts would still be in the dark ages.  Because of his leadership, we are well on our way to becoming a model school in the area of technology integration.

Back to Google Apps…

What does Google Apps for Education offer?  I copied this from their Frequently Asked Questions section:

Google is currently offering schools a hosted solution for their email, calendar, and chat through Google Apps Education Edition, our integrated communication and collaboration solution. Our offer includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Sites, and Google Docs and Google Video, all using your own school’s domain.

Google Apps Education Edition includes:

  • Gmail: Email storage and search tools that help your students find information fast and instant messaging from right inside their accounts.
  • Google Calendar: Students can organize their schedules and share events and calendars with others.
  • Google Talk: Students can call or send instant messages to their contacts for free anytime, anywhere in the world.
  • Google Docs: Share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Collaborate in real-time with your team or with your whole school. You can publish final documents to the entire world, too.
  • Google Sites: Work together to keep related documents, web content and other information in one place, on one site.
  • Google Video for education: A video hosting and sharing solution that enables schools and other organizations to use video as an effective medium for internal communication and collaboration.

How much does it cost?  That’s the best part.  It’s free!  Why? See this response from their FAQ section:

Google Apps for Education is free. We plan to keep the core offering of Google Apps Education Edition free. This includes user accounts for incoming students in the future. As you may know, Google was founded by a research project at Stanford University, and this is just one way we can give back to the educational community.

If I haven’t sold you yet, check out the Top 10 Reasons to Use Google Apps.

I am working for the day when everyone in our district (students, faculty, and staff):

  • are connected with shared calendars, messaging, and e-mail.
  • access documents, presentations, and spreadsheets at anytime from any device
  • and, collaborate in real-time

Thanks to Google Apps, that day will be here sooner than later.

Switching Gears June 16, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Uncategorized.
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Recently, most of my posts have been of the blast-from-the-past variety.  I typically go back several months to review the technology resources that I collected during a specific week and highlight those of particular interest.

I feel compelled now to redirect some of my posts toward things that are currently happening in our school and our plans for the future.

So, what’s cooking in the Paris School District?

We’re making the leap to Google Apps this school year…more on that in a later post.

I am attending a “Podcasting for Your PC” workshop tomorrow.

I will be accompanying a team of elementary teachers and our elementary principal at the NECC Conference in D.C. at the end of this month.  I hope to have time to make several blog posts while we’re in D.C.  If not, I certainly will after the conference.

We are allocating a significant portion of our stimulus money toward the acquisition of additional technology for our teachers and students.

I am in the early phases of developing a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in which we will work collaboratively to improve the ability of educators, both our current staff and their prospective teachers, to integrate handheld technology.

Preparing for the upcoming release of the competitive EETT technology grant will take up an increasing amount of my time.  We have successfully secured $225,000 over the past two years in EETT funds.  This money, and the subsequent professional development, has led to a tremendous change in our elementary school and has allowed us to lay an outstanding foundation for our future technology integration efforts.

That’s a quick look at just a few of the things that we have going on this summer.  It’s enough to keep me jumping but I still get that question that drives administrators crazy…”What do you do up there all summer without any kids or teachers?”

Handheld Resources for Productivity & Student Engagement June 3, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in handheld, Technology Integration.
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During the 2008-09 school year, we purchased a Palm TX for every teacher at Paris Elementary School.

These devices were primarily used to facilitate the process of Diebels testing.  Incorporating the Palm during the Diebels process helped our teachers be much more productive and saved valuable instruction time.

One of our goals is to continue to increase the ability of our faculty to use technology, including handheld devices, to become more productive.  By automating routine tasks, we hope to enable our teachers to spend more time planning rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning activities for our students.

Another goal of our handheld movement is to put as much technology as possible in the hands of students (Palm, iPod, iPod Touch, even cell phones) to not only make lessons more engaging, but to make our curriculum materials available anywhere, anytime.

It is our view that students should be able to access podcasts, lecture materials, videos, and files that will support their learning whenever they need those materials.

This will require an investment in the devices, supposing that we do not allow students to use the devices that they already own, and a considerable amount of professional development.

For this blast-from-the-past post (Oct. 5-11, 2008), I’ve identified several resources that should help us move forward with this initiative.

Twitter Me This, Edmodo Me That May 29, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Blogging, Technology Integration.
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You would have to be living in a cave to have not noticed all of the publicity that Twitter has been getting lately.  I won’t use this space to further promote their cause other than to say that I use Twitter as one component of my professional learning network.

I subscribe to others that “tweet” about educational technology and regularly discover resources there that I might have otherwise missed.

For that purpose, Twitter works very well for me.  However, is Twitter the best microblogging tool for classroom use?  Maybe, maybe not.

To answer that question, this blast-from-the-past post takes us back to the resources that I accumulated during the week of September 29-October 4, 2008 that included a link to Edmodo.

Christopher Dawson’s blog post states that, If a teahcer had designed Twitter, it would look like Edmodo.

Christopher outlines the advantages that he perceives Edmodo has over Twitter including:

  • The ability to create groups
  • Assignments with the ability to attach files
  • Students can complete the assignments simply by replying or uploading their own file
  • Teachers can provide immediate feedback and/or scoring
  • Built-in calendar where students can view assignments that are due and/or those that have been graded

In another post, Christopher outlines other uses for Edmodo including using it as a communication tool for school clubs/teams, professional development, project management, and parental involvement activities.

If you’re a teacher looking for a way to help facilitate communication in your class, or an administrator looking to improve communication with your faculty, parents, and community, check out the other Edmodo resources and links that I have collected on Diigo or Delicious.

I also have several links dealing with microblogging (Diigo link, Delicious link) in general.  Happy hunting!

One Thing You Should Know About May 20, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Resources & Information.
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It’s time for my next blast from the past installment which takes us back to September 21-28, 2008.  One particular site that stood out among the resources from that week was 7 things you should know about.

This series from EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides information on emerging technologies and related implementation strategies.

Each “7 things you should know” article focuses on a single technology and details:

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • Where it is going
  • Why it matters to teaching and learning

This series could easily be used to enhance professional development training sessions or serve as a springboard for administrative discussions about how these emerging technologies could impact your district.

So the next time you need information about an emerging technology, check out the short, clear, and easy to follow articles from “7 things you should know about.”

Administration Resources May 13, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Administration/Leadership.
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This post goes out to the wonderful group of people that I had the privilege of facilitating some technology training for yesterday at the Western Arkansas Education Cooperative.

As you practice the skills that were covered yesterday pertaining to RSS and Google Reader, visit and subscribe to this page containing all the resources that I collect and tag as “administration.”

You’ll find articles there dealing with student discipline, curriculum issues, technology leadership, etc.

Most recently, you’ll find information debating the importance of homework and the move to make electronic textbooks available to students.

P.S. Don’t forget to access and bookmark the wiki that contains all of the resources that we dealt with yesterday and add your own ideas on the Future Topics page.

Subscribe via Email May 5, 2009

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I frequently talk to colleagues about how to use RSS feeds to stay current on the topics that interest them.  Rather than going to your favorite websites or blogs to see if there have been any changes since your last visit, RSS enables you to be automatically updated to any content changes on the sites of your choosing.

Unfortunately, to many people, using RSS technology seems complicated.  Therefore, I believe that RSS is one of the most under utilized productivity tools available today.

That being said, I wanted to make it easy for anyone to subscribe to this blog whether they understand RSS feeds or not.

So, today I learned to add a “subscribe via e-mal” link to this blog.  You can find the link on the right hand side of this page, just below “Recent Posts.”

Simply clicking on this link and providing your e-mail address will allow you to receive a message each time I update this blog.  No knowledge of RSS required!

If you’d like to know how to do the same thing for your blog or website, check out How Can I Offer E-mail Updates?

You’ll be given a step-by-step guide on how to use FeedBurner to set up an e-mail subscription for your site.

Embeding a PowerPoint Presentation with SlideShare May 1, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Technology Integration.
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Going back to the week of September 14-20, 2008 for this blast-from-the-past post led me to the HIT- Hokanson’s Instructional Technology blog entry entitled How to Embed a PowerPoint in a WordPress Post.

This article was short and sweet- sign in to SlideShare, upload your presentation, copy the embed code, and paste it into your post.

After following those simple directions, I was still having difficulty getting presentations to appear in this post until I visited this WordPress support page that outlined the exact procedure for me.

Now that I’ve figured it out, I decided to share this presentation on my vision for technology integration in our district.

Note: If you are viewing this on the mobile version of my blog at http://timsblog.mofuse.mobi/iphone, the presentation is not appearing on the screen.

SlideShare is a great tool that will help you embed basic PowerPoint presentations into websites and blog posts.  Check it out.

WordPress for iPhone April 23, 2009

Posted by timsparacino in Blogging.
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This is my first post that I’ve made from my iPhone using the free WordPress app.

So far, so good.

If you’ve got an iPhone and a WordPress blog, go to iphone.wordpress.org and check it out.