Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Posts of 2009

Here are the top 10 posts for 2009.  I have to admit that there were a couple of surprises, but they all offer valuable information that I think you will enjoy if you haven't previously read them. Also, don't forget to search the "Archive" or "Labels" for other posts that might be of value to you.
  1. National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education
    The most popular post for 2009 discusses partnership between the National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education (NCHSTE) (now called The National Consortium for Health Science Education) and the CareerTech Testing Center.

  2. The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items
    This post discusses how multiple-choice questions (MCQ’s) play an important role in testing and are among the most widely used of selection-type items on examinations today and how they can be designed to measure a variety of learning outcomes. This post has gained a lot of traction and has generated a lot of response for us.

  3. Visual Thesaurus
    Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Although I am surprised at how popular this post was, I think it is a great tool that many of you can use. Try it out!

  4. The Pygmalion Effect: Are You Guilty?
    According to Wikipedia, the Pygmalion effect, (or Rosenthal effect, or Expectancy Effect), refers to situations in which students perform better than other students simply because they are expected to do so. It appears that this "concept" is controversial to some of you, but I think the Pygmalion effect does exist, at times, in regards to education and social class.

  5. Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs, and mikeroweWorks
    Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel series "Dirty Jobs," has begun a campaign to celebrate the working men and women in this country. His website mikeroweWORKS, is a public awareness campaign designed to reinvigorate the trades, reinforce the importance of skilled labor, and draw attention to our crumbling infrastructure. Read our post to see the letter that he sent to President Obama.

  6.  Response to Intervention
    This interview with Nancy Goosen, Director of Special Services, Edmond (Oklahoma) Public Schools discusses the Response to Intervention (RtI) model. RtI is a service delivery model that uses data to guide instruction and intervention at increasingly intensive levels. Ms. Goosen goes into great detail on RtI, its implementation and its successes.

  7. Understanding the Numbers - III
    This post continues our discussion on statistics and the interpretation of ratio intelligent quotients, standard scores, stanines, and finally the relationship among derived scores.

  8. Why Do We Test Students?
    After a few conversations I thought it was time to address why we test and there are typically many reasons for why we test (educational, psychological, legislative, etc.). At the present time, most educational discussions seem to focus solely on accountability and there are justifiable reasons for that. As long as money is involved, there will always be that argument, but that isn't the purpose of this discussion.

  9.  Culinary Techniques - A New Culinary Arts Product from MAVCC
    MAVCC announced the release of Culinary Techniques, ©2009. Techniques, the third book in the Culinary Arts series, explores the essentials of food production, including tools and equipment, stocks, soups and gravies, salads, hors d’oeuvres, breakfast cookery, meats, desserts, garde manger, and much more. The curriculum is designed to give students a solid grounding in the fundamental skills needed for work in the commercial kitchen. The MAVCC Culinary Arts Series aligns with the American Culinary Federation competencies. Search MAVCC's online catalog for other great products!

  10. PhotoFiltre - Free Photo Editing and Effects
    PhotoFiltre is freeware that I use quite often. Did I mention that it is FREE (you probably know by now what that means to me)!!! Take a look!
I hope everyone enjoyed the CareerTech Testing Center Blog in 2009. Here’s to finding more to talk about in 2010! Happy New Year everyone!!! J.T.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 Internet Technologies That Educators Should be Informed About

I found a great post by K. Walsh on the EmergingEdTech Blog that I think is a great resource for any educator to use when mapping out their technology strategy. J.T.

K. Walsh

There are so many different tools and technologies available on the internet today, and so many associated terms and concepts. As I think about topics to focus on here in the coming months, I want to make sure we’re touching on the most important ones. What are the most important internet technologies for educators to be aware of, and informed about? I’m sure many people would probably come up with a slightly different list, but based on my observations and experiences, and feedback from faculty at my institution, I have selected the following technologies. I do not mean to imply that every educator should be expected to use all of these technologies in the classroom, but rather that every educator should understand what these are, the potential they have in the classroom, and how their students may already be using them.

1. Video and Podcasting - One of the most widely adopted internet technologies for use in instructional settings is video streaming. Between YouTube, TeacherTube, EduTube, and many other video hosting sites, there are an abundance of lectures, how-to videos, and supporting materials available in the form of web based video. Podcasting has also been used to provide similar offerings of audio materials through popular sites like iTunes. [Click here to learn more about video hosting for education, or here to learn more about podcasting for education.]

2. Presentation Tools - This category is vast and rich. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of tools on the Internet that can be used to create and share presentations, from simple Powerpoint slide players like Slideshare to multimedia timeline tools like Vuvox and OneTrueMedia. These tools can be used to support classroom teaching or distance learning, or for student reports and presentations.

3. Collaboration and Brainstorming Tools - This is another wide ranging category, including thought-organizing tools like mindmap and, and collaborative tools like web based interactive whiteboards and Google Documents. Additionally, some of the other tools in this list, such as wikis and virtual worlds, also serve as collaboration tools.

4. Blogs and Blogging – Bloggers and many other regular Internet users are well aware of blogs and blogging, but there are many other professionals who really are not frequenters of the “blogosphere”. In addition to a basic familiarity with this technology, educators should be aware of sites like Blogger and Wordpress, where users can quickly and easily create their own blogs for free.

5. Wikis – The use of Wikis in educational settings is growing every day. Sites like Wetpaint and others allow users to create free wiki web sites and are a great way to get started with using wikis for educational applications. [Click here to learn more about the use of Wikis in education].

6. Social Networking – All educators should have a basic understanding of sites like Facebook and MySpace and how they are used. This doesn’t mean they need accounts on these sites (and many educators would recommend against using these sites to communicate with their students), but they should understand what they are and how they are being used. Educators should also be aware of the professional social networking site LinkedIn.

7. IM – A large percentage of students use IM regularly, via Aim, IM aggregator site Meebo (Meebo allows users to combine messaging from Aim, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, and other sites), or other tools. It behooves educators to be aware of this, and I have even come across various articles about using IM within the classroom setting (such as this one from Educause).

8. Twitter – This listing is really focused on technologies, not specific applications, but this application is currently just too popular to ignore. You should at least understand what it is and the fundamentals of how it is used. [Click here for some insight into how Twitter can be used in education.]

9. Virtual Worlds – This technology has received a lot of press, with SecondLife being the clear leader thus far in this application area. In my experience, the use of SecondLife has been somewhat constrained by high bandwidth and processing power requirements, but this also means that there is still considerable room for increased adoption of the application as systems continue to become more powerful and higher speed bandwidth more prevalant. Active Worlds is one of a number of competitive technologies, and provides a “universe” dedicated to education that has been popular with educators.

10. RSS Feeds - RSS allows users to create their own “push” data streams (that is, define data flows you want coming to you automatically, rather than having to go and “pull” the information with a Google search or other browsing effort). RSS feeds enable you to take advantage of streams of published content that will be sitting in your In Box, or in an RSS reader, when you want them. There are RSS feeds available for many topics and many web sites.

While many readers may have their own interpretation of which technologies are essential for educators to be aware of, I think this is a great list to get started with. Of course, this list will require updating over time, as technologies change, and as educator’s uses of these technologies evolve. As always, reader input is welcomed. What do you think? Is this a good top 10? Would you like to see some other technologies listed here? Feel free to comment and offer your insights, please. Thanks!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's Greetings

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reporting Test Results to Parents

As promised in last weeks post, Limitations of Test Scores, the National Association of School Psychologists created a handout entitled, "Using and Understanding Test Scores - A Hand-out for Teachers" by Andrea Canter, Minneapolis Schools and I wanted to share not only the limitations of test scores, but how test results should be reported to parents.

According to NASP, "Parents are often overwhelmed by the test reports they receive from school personnel. In order to help establish a true partnership between parents and teachers, it is essential that information about student progress be communicated clearly, respectfully, and accurately. Test results should be provided to parents using:
  • Simple, clear language free from educational and test jargon
  • Explanations of the purpose(s) of the tests used
  • Brief descriptions of the test procedure(s)
  • Scores appropriate to the test's purpose
  • Clear explanations of the meaning of test scores
  • Information about the limitations of the test scores
  • Corroborating information from other sources
  • Opportunities for parents to ask questions about scores, testing, etc.
  • Information about how the test results will be used.
  Raw scores and percentiles, when appropriate to the tests used, are generally the most easily explained and familiar types of scores to report to parents. A visual reference may also be helpful, particularly in explaining the concept of "average." Numbers can be misleading and in some cases frightening; it is important for parents to understand the limitations of any test score and to receive a comprehensive picture of their child's performance, not just test results."
The following texts provide an overview of assessment issues for educators, including test scores:
Hamill, D. (1987) Assessing the Abilities and Instructional Needs of Students. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Salvia, J. & Ysseldyke, J. (1988) Assessment in Special and Remedial Education, 4th Edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

10 TED Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010

I told you about TED in previous posts (Top Cultural and Educational Video Sites, etc.). If you remember, TED is a small non-profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. They originally brought people together from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. providing talks and performances to the world, for free (more than 450 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week).

I found the following post today on Free Technology for Teachers and I wanted to share it with you. These are some excellent videos that make you think and it will be a great resource to get you ready for the Spring semester and can you really go wrong with Coach John Wooden?

Here is the post:
"TED Talks provide viewers with insightful and thought-provoking commentary and ideas. The contents of many TED Talks can be directly or indirectly applied to your classroom practices. While you're on holiday break, you may want to watch one or all of these TED Talks. If you're interested in learning more about using TED Talks in your classroom, check out Teaching With TED.

TED Talks directly about education.

1. John Wooden on Winning vs. Success.
What strikes me most about Coach Wooden's talk is his emphasis on teaching and developing character over winning. One of his three most important rules, "no criticizing of teammates, I'm paid to do that," is a great rule that translates well to the classroom and the workplace.

Clifford Stoll has done many cool things in his life including catching a KGB spy, but the coolest thing he's done is teaching college level physics to 8th graders. What I like about Clifford Stoll is that instead of just talking about ways to teach and improve education he is actually getting on the front line and trying his ideas. (Stoll has definitely done enough things and made enough money to sit back and be a "consultant" but instead he's actually teaching, something I have tremendous respect for). In this talk he gave at TED in February 2006 Stoll talks about and demonstrates measuring the speed of sound with an 8th grade class. Stoll also makes a very profound, but somewhat obvious, statement about the future. He says, "if you want to know what the future generation will be like, ask a Kindergarten teacher."

In this TED Talk given by Joachim de Posada talks about the behavior of children when they are given a marshmallow and told not to eat it for fifteen minutes. In the talk Joachim de Posada reveals that the response of children to this challenge can be indicative of future success in life. In addition to being informative and thought-provoking, the talk includes some really cute video clips. The information shared in the talk confirms what most of us know about the impulse control of small children. None-the-less, it's nice to have a reminder that can inform our planning of day's lessons.

In this interesting TED Talk (they're all interesting) Bill Gates discusses mosquitoes, malaria, and education. The education part of his talk (the last eight minutes) presents some interesting fodder for conversation. While you may not agree with everything that Gates proposes in this talk, it will definitely make you think about what does and doesn't work in education.

Siftables are the high-tech version of the alphabet and number blocks we all played with as children. Siftables are little computer blocks or digital blocks that contain motion sensors, neighbor detection sensors, digital displays, and wireless communications. The blocks can be manipulated to create words, equations, pictures, and designs. Siftables are not yet commercially available nor do I have any idea what they would cost, but there is a ton of potential for Siftables as an educational resource. Siftables would be great for young students just learning to spell and do arthimetic. Siftables could also be great for older students to develop and try solutions to mathematics problems.

TED Talks with implications for education

6. Tom Wujec - 3 Ways the Brain Creates Meaning.
In this short talk Tom Wujec explains how the brain interprets words, images, feelings, and connections. As an educator I always take interest in research and discussion about how the brain absorbs and processes information. Knowing how the brain processes information should influence how we present information to our audience(s).

Do a Google search for just about any academic term and more times than not Wikipedia is at the top of the results. So how did Wikipedia get started? How does it continue to run? Watch this talk by the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, to find out.

In this talk Julian Treasure tells us that people working in open plan offices are 66% less productive than those in quiet rooms. Treasure follows that up by saying if you are in a noisy open plan room, wear headphones and listen to soothing sounds and your productivity goes back up. The ideas and information in the video are good to remember the next time you have students working independently in a large classroom. Perhaps instead of trying to keep them as quiet as possible, we should allow kids to use their mp3 players when they're working on independent assignments.

In this talk Clay Shirky examines how text messaging and social networks empower citizens to report the news without state-run media censorship. This TED Talk could be good for getting students to think about the positive things that they can accomplish using the technologies that they often think of as just fun tools.

If you're a music teacher, this two minute performance might be something you'd like to share with your students to encourage them to develop their improvisation skills.

In this video David Pogue performs a catchy medley about the changes in the way today's consumers access music and television. Pay particular attention to the middle section of song where David mentions how younger consumers watch two minute shows instead of traditional television shows. Watch and enjoy the video it will put you in a good mood for at least five minutes and you might learn something about shifts in media consumption too."

So what do you think of TED Talks?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Limitations of Test Scores

I found a hand-out from the National Association of School Psychologists entitled, "Using and Understanding Test Scores - A Hand-out for Teachers" by Andrea Canter, Minneapolis Schools and I wanted to share a part of it with you that explains the limitations of test scores:

"Scores can be useful, but must be interpreted carefully, keeping the purpose of the test in mind. A single test can only reflect a sample of skills; therefore, every score includes some degree of error in measurement - no score is absolutely accurate. Score are influenced by many factors, but particularly by the reliability and validity of the test. Reliable tests will yield consistent results if administrered many times. Valid tests actually measure and predict what they are intended to measure. For example, a valid reading decoding test will accurately distinguish students with strong and weak decoding skills; it will accurately predict which students will perform well in a phonics program and which students may have difficulty. We can place greater confidence in the scores provided by reliable and valid tests.

Many tests are of limited value when used with students who come from communities or cultures which are different from the White, middle class groups from which the scores were derived. Students who grow up in poor, rural or inner city communities, in ethnic minority families, or in families who primarily speak a language other than English are not typically well-represented in the standardization of tests, and scores obtained by these students often reflect some degree of bias.

Certain test scores are only useful for certain purposes, and not for others. Percentiles and standard scores, for example, are not intended to measure student growth. They only show relative standing compared to others, and this relationship does not necessarily change as students progress through the curriculum. Raw scores, such as words read correctlyor number of multiplication problems solved correctly, can be plotted over time to reflect progress.

Limitations of test scores can be minimized by using other types of information to describe student performance. Test scores alone should never be used to make placement or other serious educational decisions. Observations, school and health history, parent information, daily work samples, etc. should be used in conjunction with test scores.

Limitations of test scores can be further minimized by the use of qualified assessment personnel such as school psychologists to assist in the selection of tests and the interpretation of results."

The following texts provide an overview of assessment issues for educators, including test scores:
Hamill, D. (1987) Assessing the Abilities and Instructional Needs of Students. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Salvia, J. & Ysseldyke, J. (1988) Assessment in Special and Remedial Education, 4th Edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin

I'll have another post at the beginning of next week that explains how test results should be reported to parents. J.T.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Medical Assistant Assessment Expands to Three New Assessments

The CareerTech Testing Center would like to announce that our previous Medical Assistant test has been replaced with three new ones. These new assessments include: Medical Assistant: Administration, Medical Assistant: Clinical and Medical Assistant: Phlebotomy. All three tests have been endorsed by Integris Physician Services and are now available.

Please contact the CareerTech Testing Center today at 405.743.5412 to schedule these new assessments!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Cheers" to John Ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger, better known as Cliff Clavin from the "Cheers" TV Series, is a founder of Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs which is "dedicated to nurturing the tinkering spirit."

According to the site, "Through its manufacturing summer camps and scholarships, NBT is inspiring the next generation of manufacturers, welders, plumbers, carpenters and more ... one tinkerer at a time. Ratzenberger also speaks on behalf of the organization and how they are addressing the urgent need to engage young people in career preparation for well-paid, fulfilling jobs that require hands-on skills."

NBT's goals are:
  • NBT will be the recognized resource for career development information programs, outreach, training, and services to facilitate a skilled manufacturing work force.
  • NBT will be the recognized voice for the general public awareness of the challenge and solutions for renewing the future manufacturing work force.
  • NBT will be a powerful fundraiser that is successful in developing and implementing its funding campaigns.
NBT had a camp last summer in Oklahoma City and they have many of Oklahoma's Technology Centers listed on their site (not all are listed so you may want to contact them).

NBT also offers scholarships for college and trade schools so you might also have your students check out the information.

Congratulations to Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and now John Ratzenberger from Cheers for singing the praises of career and technology education!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Latest Ways that Kids Cheat on Exams

Does your text plan for your mobile device never seem big enough, especially if you have teenage kids? Whether you call them cell phones, mobile devices, smart phones, could 25% of all students be using these devices to cheat?

Lynn O'Shaughnessy on CBS, reports on "The Latest Way that Kids Cheat on Exams." According to the article, "If a student cheats on an exam by texting is it really cheating? Not apparently for millions of teenagers, who typically send and receive 2,272 text messages a month. The cell phone for many students is just as important on test day as a No. 2 pencil and a good night’s sleep.

In a survey conducted by Common Sense Media, one out of three students in grades seven through 12 admit that they have used their cell phones to cheat on tests. What’s more, 65% of all the students surveyed say other kids in their schools are using their cell phones to cheat.

 Here’s how kids who admit to digital cheating pull it off:
  1. They check notes on their phone during exams. (26%).
  2. They text friends for tests answers. (25%).
  3. They hunt for answers on the Internet during tests. (20%).
And isn’t this thoughtful? More than half the cheaters say they text or use their cell phones to call friends to warn them of pop quizzes. Only 16% of students think alerting classmates about a quiz is cheating and only half of students believe that using their cell phone to cheat during tests is a serious offense.

Cell phone cheating prompted the nonprofit Common Sense Media to suggest that schools and parents need to start searching for solutions to this ethical disconnect:

“The results of this poll show the huge need for a national discussion on the concept of digital ethics. Kids have always found ways to cheat in school, but the tools they now have at their disposal are more powerful than ever. Just as they need to be taught the rules of right and wrong in the offline world, kids should have a similar set of guidelines for good online behavior…”

 In the meantime, if phones continue growing smarter, students may some day not have to think at all."

Are you planning on confiscating cell phones now??? J.T.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A New Assessment: Damage Appraiser/Estimator:

Unfortunately, it's that time of year when we begin to get winter storms and all of the terrible road conditions that goes with it. I truly hope that every one of you stays safe, but I wanted to take this time to announce a new assessment that is being offered by the CareerTech Testing Center.

Within our Auto Body series, we have just added an online assessment and skills standards for Damage Appraiser/Estimator.

This new test is in addition to our existing tests and standards that align with ASE/NATEF: Non-Structural Analysis and Damage Repair Technician and Painting and Refinishing Technician.

Please contact the CareerTech Testing Center at 405.743.5412 to order this new assessment! As always, you can access our skills standards for FREE on our website.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 Questions Every Parent and Student Should Ask About Testing

I found a 2006 CNN article by Audrey Schewe entitled, "Cheat Sheet for Parents on Testing: Ask Right Questions to Understand Impact on Children, Schools." The last couple of pages were from the National PTA and it involved questions to ask before and after testing. I'll list them for you first and then provide a few comments:

Questions to Ask Before Testing
1. Which tests are given in my child's grade?
2. What are the purposes of these tests? What will these tests measure? How will the scores be reported?
3. How will the results of the tests be used?
4. What do you do to prepare children for the tests? What can I do at home to help my child prepare to take the test?
5. What happens if my child performs poorly?

Questions to Ask After Testing
1. What do the test results tell me about my child's strengths and weaknesses?
2. What can I do to help strengthen my child's skills and abilities?
3. Are the test results consistent with my child's performance in the classroom?
4. How does my child compare with his peers?
5. Is the test data used to help improve instruction? What, if any, changes will be made in the classroom instruction?

First of all, I believe that all of these questions should be asked by both parents AND students. I think that a student should always advocate for themselves and taking responsibility for their actions is an important first step for any individual.

The first questions I would add to the list of questions to ask prior to testing is "who" will administer the test and "who" will interpret the test? It is important that a person knowledgeable in assessment should administer and interpret the test. A standard score of 70 is not "like a C average" and unbelievably, I have heard that interpretation before. I would also ask what happens if my child, or I, performs successfully? Almost any type of test will demonstrate areas of relative weakness and areas or relative strength. Your child may make a score at the 95 percentile, but he/she may have a weakness in a particular area. Like I have stated before, a test is a point in time reference and a multitude of factors comprise this score. A person knolwedgeable in assessment should include these factors when interpreting the test.

The questions that are listed to ask after testing are all important. From my point of view though, I'm most interested in building upon strengths and remediating weaknesses. Use the test results to establish obtainable goals for the student and then monitor their progress and continue to raise the bar. Although it is interesting to compare yourself or your child to others, I really care about maximizing a person's abilities. Everybody has a strength, something that is unique to them, and it's exciting to watch them find success!  One last thing, besides using test results to improve classroom instruction, the results should be evaluated in regards to program improvement as well.

Remember to empower yourselves as a student or as a parent. Become active in your education...get involved and ask lots of questions! Asking questions is the best way to learn!!! J.T.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google Wave Update: Is Anybody Out There?

I made a post last October stating how excited I was about the new Google Wave, but I also told you how sad I was that Google didn't select me to receive a demo version of the new product.

Guess what??? Times have changed and I just received my invitation to preview Google Wave! Unfortunately, I can't share the activation link, but there are so many features that I could try if I knew of anyone else that has access.

Please contact me if you have access. I would really like to see some of the features with multiple users.

Happy waving! J.T.

Looking for Web 2.0? Try Go2web2.0

Besides testing, we spend alot of our time sharing educational technology with you (especially Web 2.0 resources). I wanted to let you know about a directory that I use called Go2web2.0. According to the site,  "For the past two years, Go2web20 has been one of the biggest web2.0 directories out there. We built this application to enable people to stay up to date with all the new and hot services that are born daily into the web. In many cases, Go2web20 has been the first to report the existence of a new application.

Today Go2web20 includes over 3,000 services and more are uploaded everyday. We also make sure to disable services that are no longer working and by doing this we ensure a more useful and enjoyable experience when performing a search. We believe that this is a natural behavior and logical progress - not all the services that you see here will live forever, but they'll serve you for as long as they live."

Go2web2.0 has listed these services according to category and each service has it's own app page (from there you can visit the website).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just in Time for the Holidays...Critter Carols

I saw Critter Carols by petcentric and thought I would share it with you prior to the Thanksgiving weekend (Just in case the kids get a little stir crazy over the long weekend!). My kids played around with it last weekend and I have to admit that I thought it was funny as well.

You can choose a dog or cat to deliver your holiday message or upload a picture of your favorite pet. You can then pick from a selection of holiday clothes, choose a favorite song, and personalize your message. You can then send your holiday greeting by email, Facebook, or embed the video.

I also enjoyed some of the other options from this page, such as Friendfetcher, which is a breed selector from a dog's point of view.

Try this classic if you would rather ElfYourself!

I hope you will take a look and have a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Holiday season! J.T.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Pushcart Educator" Named CNN Hero of the Year

The paragraphs below were copied and pasted from CNN and links are included to each of the articles and videos.

(CNN) -- A teacher and the organization he began has just been recognized by the Cable News Network.

Efren Peñaflorida, who started a "pushcart classroom" in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. The show was taped last Saturday, but premieres on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.

Efren gives Filipino youth an alternative to gang membership through education. His Dynamic Teen Company's 10,000 members have taught basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and English to 1,500 kids living in the slums. Stocked with books, pens, tables and chairs, they recreate a school setting in unconventional locations such as the cemetery and municipal trash dump. The group also runs a hygiene clinic, where children can get a bath and learn how to brush their teeth.

"Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry," Peñaflorida said upon accepting the honor. "Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.

So to each and every person inside this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers ... you are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream, and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be."

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, remember all of the blessings you have matter how big or small, and make a difference in someone's life! Unleash that hero inside of yourself!!! J.T.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 1st Anniversary - The CareerTech Testing Center Blog

I want to thank each reader of the CareerTech Testing Center Blog for an incredible first year!

I would have never believed in the beginning that we would reach 49 states and the District of Columbia (where are you Wyoming???) and 103 countries!

I also want to thank everyone for the links (609 inbound links at last count) and for the help in sharing our news about testing issues and educational technology.

As for the 1,400+ subscribers...UNBELIEVABLE!

Again, I hope you will continue to use our blog as a resource and visit often for posts you may have missed in the past.

One last thing...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share the blog with anyone that could benefit from the information. We want to reach as many people as possible and I hope you will continue to let us know your thoughts on posts and please share any of your great teaching methods/resources with us. The only way to make this a better blog is to have your input!

Thank you again!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Tinkering Makes Comeback Amid Crisis

The CareerTech Update lead me to an article in the Wall Street Journal (11/12, A1, Lahart) which reported that tinkering is making a comeback in the US. New technology such as contemporary milling machines and other computer numerical controlled (CNC) tools, more widely available because of decreased costs, has contributed to this trend, as have increased interest among students for mechanical engineering, and for hands-on work. MIT engineering professor Michael Cima said that the current financial crisis has also fostered a desire for creativity and innovation with tangible results. Whatever the causes, workshops called hackerspaces have been turning up across the US at a rapid pace in the past year, as has interest in do-it-yourself technology. While declines in R&D spending has prompted some concern from experts about the state of innovation in the US, the Journal notes that this tinkering among students and enthusiasts represents R&D that is outside of official figures.

I am intrigued by the idea of "Hackerspaces." These are workshops for people to share tools and ideas and they are popping up all over the country (there are 124 hackerspaces in the U.S., according to a member-run group that keeps track, up from a handful at the start of last year). I wonder if "Hackerspaces" could be another form of economic innovation/development that Oklahoma's CareerTech system could offer in their districts? It seems like a great fit: hackerspace to incubator to technology park or local business district.

Honestly, there aren't a lot of good things about difficult economic times, except every downturn seems to spur creativity and a state of excitement will always ensue. I'm amazed by young entrepreneurs and their level of creativity. The CareerTech system in Oklahoma has been supporting entrepreneurs and small business since its inception and it is my belief that this partnership will continue to grow over the course of time. What do you all think of hackerspaces???

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Digital Kids and the Digital Generation Project

Please check out the Digital Generation Project (on Edutopia's site) which is produced with support from the McArthur Foundation.

According to the site:

"Today's kids are born digital -- born into a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than just cool gadgets; it's about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, and empowerment. The Digital Generation Project tells their stories so that educators and parents can understand how kids learn, communicate, and socialize in very different ways than any previous generation."

Also take a look at some of the youth profiles like Cameron or Jalen. I think you'll be amazed!

This video from Frontline on PBS with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan describes what The Class of the Future looks like.

I think this shows that we are in the midst of the digital generation and we, as educators, must develop these skills and prepare our students for the demands of the marketplace. I fear that if we don't develop these skills, we risk losing credibility with our students. J.T.

Thursday, November 5, 2009 A Special Education Resource? is something that I'm really excited about, especially for Special Education purposes!!!

Have you ever been so busy taking notes during a lecture that you felt "lost" after the lecture? You took great notes, but you really weren't able to analyze what was being said or had a chance to ask follow-up questions? could be your answer! is a student founded company who’s goal is to improve the way students throughout the world learn. Using NoNotes will allow you to focus on learning while in class rather than having to focus your attention on taking notes. The service allows you to sit back, learn, ask questions and make the most of your class time. Simply record the lecture, upload the recording to their site and they will provide a written transcript  (turnaround time is typically 1-3 business days). Prices start as low as $9.57/hr class.

I know I could have used this service when I was in college. To not only help with my own note taking ability, but to rely on someone more reliable than my "friends." Were you ever sick and asked a friend to take notes and you basically received nothing in return, except for a response like, "Dude, we really didn't talk about anything new." You later find out that you had a test review on the day you missed, because the next lecture you attended was actually a test! That's right, the instructor moved the test up in the schedule to the next class period instead of two class periods from my abscence (which made the syllabus...WRONG!). I know...I know... I should have chosen my friends more carefully and I didn't do so well on that test, but I'm still not over it!  Where was when I needed it?

Now for what I think could be the BEST part of this site that NoNotes doesn't really even highlight....Special Education! Now what is there about special education that NoNotes could influence???  Two things: Specific Learning Disabilities and Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Immigrant Students.

Student's with a Specific Learning Disability typically have average to above average cognitive ability, but a discrepancy exists between expected and actual ability in reading, written expression, or mathematical calculations. Wouldn't make a great resource for these students? Instead of taking notes, these students could spend their lecture time trying to process the information and asking questions of instructors to clarify their understanding of the material.

Now what about Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Immigrant Students? NoNotes can translate notes into several languages and wouldn't it be a great way for these students to learn if notes were provided in both English and the student's native language?

I hope you will take a look at and let us know how you used the service and what your thoughts are!

Monday, November 2, 2009

100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom

I know a lot of you have access issues for Facebook at your school or place of employment, but I found an interesting source for you: 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom. The article includes a lot of great ideas even if you can only have access at home.

Take a look because I really think we are just beginning to understand a few uses for social media!

Friday, October 30, 2009

What Do You Need to Know About Item Analysis?

I've been following a great series of blog posts from Questionmark. Greg Pope, Analytics and Psychometrics Manager for Questionmark, has written an 8-part series on Item Analysis and Classical Test Theory (CTT). Item analysis is currently a hot-button topic for any discussion involving testing and Greg presents the information in an manner that is both interesting and easy to follow. I highly recommend that you read the following series of posts or download "Item Analysis Analytics: The White Paper." (You may need to create a free membership to the Questionmark community to download the white paper):

Item Analysis Analytics Part 1: What is Classical Test Theory?
Item Analysis Analytics Part 2: Conducting an Item Analysis
Item Analysis Analytics Part 3: What to Look for in an Item Analysis Report
Item Analysis Analytics Part 4: The Nitty-Gritty of Item Analysis
Item Analysis Analytics Part 5: Outcome Discrimination and Outcome Correlation
Item Analysis Analytics Part 6: Determining Whether a Question Makes the Grade
Item Analysis Analytics Part 7: The psychometric good, bad and ugly
Item Analysis Analytics Part 8: Some problematic questions

This is a great resource for item analysis and CTT and it should be required reading for anyone that interprets tests at any level! J.T.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Cultural & Educational Video Sites

Looking for great cultural and educational video? The Open Culture Blog has compiled a list of sites that feature intelligent videos. This list was produced with the help of their readers and it continues to grow over time. I think you will find some great resources...take a look!

ABC Documentaries: This site pulls together some of the best documentaries aired on ABC television in Australia.

Academic Earth: Some call this “the Hulu for education.” The idea is to take academic videos from top-notch universities and let users watch them with a very user-friendly interface. Though a young site, many users are giving it high marks. The site gathers together “the very best films and photographs of the world’s species into one centralised digital library, to create a unique audio-visual record of life on Earth.” A great site for naturalists and nature lovers.

Australian Screen Archive: The Australian National Film and Sound Archive provides free and worldwide access to over 1,000 film and television titles – a treasury of down-under video 100 years in the making.

Babelgum: Babelgum’s goal is to act as an international ‘glue’, bringing a huge range of professional and semi-professional content to a global audience – like a modern-day Tower of Babel. They’re also making an effort to get their content to smartphones. They have an iPhone app now, and apps for other phones on the horizon.

BestOnlineDocumentaries: As one reader describes it, “This site is a bit out of date and some of the links are broken, but it’s still a great compilation of online documentaries.” For more documentaries, you should also see Snagfilms mentioned below.

BigIdeas: This show, which comes out of Canada, ”offers a variety of thought-provoking topics which range across politics, culture, economics, art history, science…. The program has introduced Ontario viewers to the impressive brainpower of people like Niall Ferguson on American empire, Daniel Libeskind on architecture, Robert Fisk on the Middle East, George Steiner on the demise of literacy, Camille Paglia on aesthetic education, Tariq Ramadan on being a Western Muslim, Noam Chomsky on U.S. politics, Leon Kass on dying, Janice Stein on accountability and governance.” See the full list of videos here.

BigThink: “Offers high quality video interviews and insight from the world’s most influential experts in business, entertainment, education, religion and media.” BigThink was founded partly with the help of Larry Summers, formerly the president of Harvard, now Obama’s right hand economic man.

Bloggingheads.TV: We had several readers highly recommend Here is how bloggingheads has been described elsewhere: “a political, world events, philosophy, and science video blog discussion site in which the participants take part in an active back and forth conversation via webcam which is then broadcast online to viewers.”

Channel N: Get brain & behavior videos with Sandra Kiume. Part of PsychCentral.

CultureCatch: has over 160 half-hour interviews with today’s seminal artists in film, theater, music and literature. Here you’ll find in-depth interviews with smart culture individuals dissecting art, comedy, fashion, film, music, politics, television, theater, even cooking. Video: is run by John Brockman, literary agent to some of the most important science writers in the US and beyond. You’ll find videos featuring these thinkers on the Edge’s web site.

Europa Film Treasures: Thanks to Europa Film Treasures, you can spend hours looking back through an archive of European film. Theses films range from “comedy to science fiction, from westerns to animation, from erotic to ethnological movies.” Highly recommended by our readers. A non-profit that showcases the good works of non-profits internationally. Lots of great educational topics from Tiananmen Square to Jerusalem to Orcas. The site itself hosts tons of film and photographs.

Folkstreams: A collection of short films and mini-documentaries on American roots culture, including music, folkart and traditional customs.

Fora.TV: A large site that gathers video from live events, lectures, and debates taking place at the world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences.

Forum Network: PBS and NPR have jointly launched the Forum Network where you will find free lectures online. I expect this to be a rich resource as time goes by.

Free Documentaries Online: The name says it all.

Global Oneness Project: Global Oneness produces documentary films and interviews that are exploring our modern day struggles within the ecological, economical, and social systems and how these battles aren’t isolated but part of a interdependent whole. Features over 200 short films and interviews.

Intelligent Life on YouTube: The Open Culture Blog created a handy list of the intelligent video collections available on YouTube. Have a look and also see the list of their favorite individual YouTube videos.

Internet Archive – Feature Films: This archive of feature films contains some important classics from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. We’ve featured ten good ones in a previous post. Annenberg Media presents an impressive video collection that will appeal to lifelong learners and teachers. It includes a lot of high quality programming on American history, world literature and music, science and much more. Thanks Julie for the tip.

LinkTV: “Global and national news, uncompromising documentaries, diverse cultural programs, connecting you to the world.”

Living Room Candidate: Television ads have changed our political system, and this site maintains more than 300 commercials from every presidential election since 1952.

Long Now Seminars: Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation presents monthly talks that provide a counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking. Theses talks given by prominent thinkers are hosted by FORA.TV.

MeaningofLife.TV: Sponsored by Slate, this site brings you “cosmic thinkers” on camera. Here, you’ll find talks by Karen Armstrong, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Pinker and others.

MITWorld: MIT World “hosts lots of inspiring talks by some of the most innovative thinkers and doers in town.” – Tony

Moving Image Collections: A window to the world’s moving images. is a web site where you can watch films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Offers access to 100s of documentaries, animated films and trailers. You can also access this collection via a free iPhone app.

PBS Video: Everyone knows that PBS regularly produces intelligent video. You can watch a good number of their original programs here.

PeoplesArchive: “Dedicated to collecting for posterity the stories of the great thinkers, creators, and achievers of our time.”

Pop!Tech Pop!Casts Videos: Kind of like TED, Pop!Tech features “a community of remarkable people, and an ongoing conversation about science, technology and the future of ideas.” Scroll down to the find their videos. Reader says: “Although this website doesn’t host video, it brings together all sorts of media (including courses) on the topic of psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry, for those interested.”

Research Channel: Based out of the University of Washington, the ResearchChannel brings together content from leading research and academic institutions (see member list here), and distributes it to consumers mostly through satellite and cable, but also via the web.

ScholarSpot: A new web site that promises a “free university.” Site is live in beta. Stay tuned for more.

Science Network: As the title suggests, lots of good science here.

SnagFilms: SnagFilms “finds the world’s most compelling documentaries, whether from established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers, and makes them available to a wide audience.” You can watch full-length documentary films for free. Currently includes over 550 films. And, as one reader notes, “The best part … is you can give back to the charitable foundations behind each one of the documentaries.”

Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: This online catalog “provides access to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive. The Archive serves as a comprehensive informational and archival resource worldwide for moving image materials pertaining to the Holocaust and related aspects of World War II. ”

TED Talks: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. The talks largely come from the big annual TED conference. And, hands down, this site is the most frequently recommended by our readers.
UbuWeb: “A completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts.”

UChannel: Spearheaded by Princeton University, this video service presents talks on international/political affairs from academic institutions all over the world.

UCTV: Launched in January 2000, University of California Television (UCTV) is a non-commercial channel featuring 24/7 programming from throughout the University of California, the nation’s premier research university made up of ten campuses, three national labs and affiliated institutions.

UWTV: UWTV is an award-winning television channel brought to you by the University of Washington. Offers original, non-commercial educational programming — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A unique educational resource, UWTV provides its audience with direct access to world-renowned scientists and researchers whose insights and discoveries are changing our world.

VideoActive: Video Active presents a vast collection of television programmes and stills from audiovisual archives across Europe. It also provides articles and comparative analysis on European TV history.

VideoLectures.Net: Based in Eastern Europe, this site provides free access to high quality video lectures presented by distinguished scholars from many fields of science.

WGBH Video Lectures: “The WGBH video collections brings together talks from the world’s leading scientists, educators, policymakers, artists, and authors. Some pieces come from PBS, NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Lowell Institute.”

YouTube hosts a number of intelligent properties worth giving your time to. Some key properties are:

YouTube Edu: Finally, YouTube gave us an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Now you can easily watch videos from hundreds of universities worldwide. Includes a large number of free courses. More info here.

YouTube Screening Room: The Screening Room presents high quality, independent films to YouTube users and promises to roll out four new films every two weeks.

@Google Talks: Some of the world’s leading thinkers and political players make a point of speaking at Google. You can catch them all here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

21st Century Instruction: Do You Have the Skills You Need?

Are you keeping up with technology? Are you intimidated by technology? Who can help you understand the technology needed to "reach" your current students and those you will teach in the future?

My kids may laugh at how little I know about their world of technology, but like I tell them..."I grew up without a microwave oven and cable tv, but I've got a blog, don't I???"  At least I'm trying. My learning curve may seem as steep as Mt. Everest at times, but I'm getting there! In other words, there is a lot of information on the web about social media, web 2.0 (or 3.0) or whatever, but I just had to forget about my pride or my unwillingness to admit that I didn't know very much and ask the kids for help. The kids (students) are a terrific source of 2.0 knowledge. This is their life and we better figure out how to be a part of their life and that includes instruction! Technology will continue to rapidly change the way we teach and I personally think that change brings on a state of excitement. As Coach John Wooden stated in his 12 Lessons in Leadership, "Seek Significant Change."

I posted a video, A Brave New World-Wide-Web, by David Truss about a year ago that does an incredible job showing the transformation and tools required of 21st Century instructor. The video is extremely well done and I hope all of you will take a couple of minutes to watch it (even if you have seen it before).

I hope we will continue to evolve our instructional methods and be not only "where the students are," but also "where industry is." We must bridge that gap between aspiring students and industry and build our workforce for the future. We must continue to challenge ourselves and our students. That whole learning process is what excites me about the future!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Race to the Top Assessment Program

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has set aside up to $350 million of Race to the Top funds for the potential purpose of supporting States in the development of a next generation of assessments. As an important next step in contemplating and designing a competition for these funds, and as a means of providing technical assistance to States, the Department of Education is pleased to release a notice for public meetings announcing a series of expert and public input meetings. (Please click here to view the executive summary of the notice.)

The goals are two-fold: first to gather technical input to inform the development of a Race to the Top Assessment Competition; and second to enable states, who will be the competition applicants, and the public to participate in and learn from these events. Given the highly technical nature of this work, the vast body of knowledge that exists around how to best develop assessments, and the many promising practices currently employed across the country and world, we will solicit a wide range of input from assessment practitioners and researchers as we prepare to take important next steps.

Over six days of meetings in November and December in three cities, department officials will solicit a wide range of input from expert assessment practitioners and researchers about how innovative and effective approaches to the development of the next generation of assessments. The department is inviting states, in particular, to attend the meetings and will share on its website both the transcripts of the meetings as well as all written input received.

The meetings will be held on the following dates and locations:

Thursday, November 12 – Friday, November 13
Full-day panel (Thursday, Nov. 12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment
Half-day panel (Friday, Nov. 13, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Technology & innovation
Half-day panel (Friday, Nov. 13, 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.): High school assessment

Tuesday, November 17 – Wednesday, November 18
Full-day panel (Tuesday, Nov. 17, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment
Half-day panel (Wednesday, Nov. 18, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Assessment of students with disabilities

Tuesday, December 1 – Wednesday, December 2
Full-day panel (Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.): General assessment
Half-day panel (Wednesday, Dec. 2, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.): Assessment of English language learners

The meetings are open to the public. The official notice, along with information on how to RSVP for the meetings, can be found on our web site at The Department encourages the submission of written input (see details of submission process on our web site), and plans to post transcripts of every meeting session and all written input submitted to the agency at

Make sure your voice is heard and participate in the public discussion! J.T.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The 10 Best Educational Websites

The following is from the Sunday, October 23rd edition of the Times Online in London. We have discussed some of these sites in the past, but one really interesting resource that I haven't mentioned is TED. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader with conferences located across the globe.

From The Sunday Times October 23, 2009
Mike Peake

The 10 Best Educational Websites

Online information has come on leaps and bounds since the days of the CD-ROM encyclopedia.
We bring you the top education sites

If you bought a computer a few years ago, it would invariably come with a free CD-Rom encyclopedia. At the time it seemed like a life-changer, but after an hour or two spent looking at ancient wildlife clips and a timeline about the Romans, the excitement wore off. Today’s internet equivalents are bigger, faster and more interactive, whether you’re helping youngsters with their homework or cramming for the pub quiz.

The American magazine covers a huge range of subjects, from space and the environment to animals and even world music (where you can listen to thousands of artists). What’s shared is a passion for the living world. Inspiring stuff, brilliantly presented.

Videos, podcasts, a vast photo archive, 3-D image files and pages for missions where you can view raw data as they stream in, make this a must for anyone with even a fleeting interest in space.


Expertly written articles explaining everything under the sun, from how a Taser is put together to the history of the jeep. Hundreds of videos add to the experience.


It might be a giant plug for the Discovery Channel’s roster of shows, but the dozens of microsites here are uniformly excellent. Links to the websites of sister channels (Military, Science and more) drive an even bigger wedge between you and any work you might have been thinking of doing.


The Smithsonian Institution in Washington is the world’s largest museum complex, and its magazine is a rival to National Geographic. The associated website is a rich source of eye-opening good reads.


Possibly the best BBC microsite — a simple collection of video clips. Choose from 370 animals to see related footage, and scare your friends when they walk in by playing the “what they sound like” widget. (Works better with tigers than rabbits.)


TED is an organisation that invites inspirational people to an annual conference to share their thoughts on the world, technology, design and more. It videos the results and archives them here. Will keep you hooked for days.


Videos and photos that live up to the simple tagline “images of life on earth”. Endangered species are a speciality; the promise is they will live on here if nowhere else.


Once registered for free, you can browse through hundreds of articles culled from the popular magazine. They are sorted into categories and, despite the lofty academic credentials of the authors, are easily readable.


PBS is a publicly funded American TV channel with an emphasis on science, the arts and history. Watch entire shows or browse their excellent, richly detailed sites.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Catch the Google Wave!

Is anyone else excited about Google Wave besides me? Unfortunately, I'm not one of the selected few that were chosen to receive an actual demo version of the new product, but I have watched Google's looooong video that provides a demo and I have been reading about it.  Even though the video is long (an hour and 20 minutes), it's still worth watching! I really like the fact that it is open source and I've already thought of some ways we can use Wave to reduce expenses and increase operating efficiency!

For those of you not familiar with Google Wave, it's "an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. A wave is also shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when. A wave is also a live transmission. So as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time." In other words, it combines alot of the different types of social media that we are currently using, i.e. email, blogs, chats, wikis, etc., and they occur all in one place.

Some of the other key technologies that Google Wave incorporates is natural language tools (server-based models provide contextual suggestions and spelling correction) and the ability to add extensions or embed waves in other sites or add live social gadgets.

Take a look at the following video and catch the Wave!

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