Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Racing to the Top: Will You Be in the Clouds?

With the announcement that NC has just received a federal grant for school reform in the amount of $400 million, it's important to understand what this means for North Carolina, our students, and our teachers.

You can wade through the 271 pages of the narrative application, June 2010, if you want to get the whole feel for the proposal: the standards, assessments, data systems, professional development, closing the achievement gap.

But the pages that caught my eye and made me think about my role in this race were pages 27 - 29 of the document. This is where the NC PK-12 Education Technology Cloud is visually represented and outlined. (If you're not familiar with cloud computing, read more from Wes Fryar or David Warlick.)

The K-12 Education Cloud "will be used to deliver statewide access to the major digital resources and tools necessary to support RttT initiatives." (p. 28) According to the plan, this means online resources and tools to insure EQUITABLE ACCESS. It means professional development. It means SHARING of resources across classrooms, schools, and districts. It means Web 2.0 tools. It means digital learning and video streaming. It means CONNECTING.

All of this improved technology supports the four main initiatives of the RttT: 1) standards and assessments; 2) data systems to support instruction; 3) great teachers and leaders; and 4) turning around the lowest achieving schools.

When referring to the lowest performing schools, it was noted: "In addition, it is essential that students in these schools have equitable access to technology and to teachers with the expertise to use it well, to guarantee that they experience the full range of technology uses that their peers in high-achieving schools receive." (p. 29)

Teachers with the EXPERTISE to use it WELL. Are you prepared to be the teacher with the expertise? Are you prepared to work with your fellow teachers to insure that they are experts as well? What do you see as your role in your classroom and in your school in the race to the top?

Will you have your head in the CLOUDS or will it be stuck in the SAND?

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