Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If You Want to Get Something Done, Ask a Student!

Or ask your own child. Don't you wish you had the fearlessness of a child?

I know I do especially when dealing with technology because I often think I will destroy my pc long before I can understand the new technology I'm trying to install and use. Students just get on their pc and do it. No worries and no fear! They have grown up with technology and it's just a normal, everday life occurrence for them.

As I have talked to teachers this spring, I get the impression that a few are tech savvy, a few hate technology and almost refuse to consider implementing it within their classroom, and the majority want to use technology, but just don't know how or where to start (it seems overwhelming and time consuming to them). However, my greatest fear is that students will perceive us to be antiquated and out-of-touch with their everyday life and their minds will tune us out as irrelevant even before we get started.

I know it seems overwhelming because their is so much out there and it's not only finding the right technology, but then it's learning to use it, and then their is the question of how to incorporate the technology into your classroom.

These are all very valid concerns but I would like to challenge each of you to use the summer months to identify ten new technologies (basically one a week) and to determine how they could be implemented within your classroom.

I strongly suggest developing a personal learning network (PLN) to help with this initiative. According to Wikipedia, a PLN "consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from." As simple as this sounds, I would suggest beginning a PLN with your co-workers, peers from your own district, county, or state, your own kids, and even your students who are typically up-to-date on most new technologies anyway. Thanks to technology, your PLN can now go global as we are no longer restricted by geographical boundaries.

Also subscribe to blogs (CareerTech Testing Center), wikis, and other sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This will allow you to increase the size of your PLN and don't forget that PLN's works in both directions.  Not only can you learn from others, but they want to learn from you, so please share your best practices and opinions with others! I'm always amazed at how willing people are to share their knowledge and to help with any question you have and you will be amazed that this help may come from countries across the globe.

I'll be making posts throughout the summer and you can also check the labels and archives for previous blog posts you may have missed that will help you with this challenge. Please share this blog or any of the posts with your PLN as we have created the blog as a free resource for you. Our intent is to search the web and find things of interest for you that will make your professional life easier yet better.  Please share with us when you find anything new and interesting that we can learn from as well.

As the title of this post states, I think we can include students as a part of our PLN because learning should happen in both directions and I truly believe the every person is brilliant in some way and has something to offer the rest of us that we can learn from.

I encourage each of you to become a part of my PLN so I can learn from each of you!

Other related posts:
What Twitter Has Done for Me
The People We Meet

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Convert PDF Documents to Word for Free with "PDF to Word"

It was only this morning that I was complaining to a co-worker about people that keep sending me PDF files when they are wanting me to use their information to create a Word document.

As luck would have it, I stumbled across a totally free site called "PDF to Word" and I will never have to worry about my conversion problems again. PDF to Word allows you to upload a PDF file to convert and then you are emailed editable DOC/RTF files. These files allow you to re-use PDF content in applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, OpenOffice, and WordPerfect. The converter is also designed to convert and accurately re-position all graphics upon conversion (Pictures, photos, vector images, and Excel charts).

Try PDF to Word.

New Curriculum from CIMC: Fundamentals of Nursing

I would like to announce another great new curriculum product from CIMC...

This text provides a basic overview of fundamental skills that the practical nursing student needs in order to be successfully employed in today’s healthcare setting. Fundamentals of Nursing is designed to teach the nursing student basic nursing skills and the ability to apply their knowledge to prepare for the NCLEX-PN.

Modules include:
  • Skills for Wound Care
  • Respiratory Care Skills
  • Digestive Care Skills (Upper)
  • Digestive Care Skills (Lower/Bowel Elimination)
  • Basic Nutrition
  • Urinary Care Skills
  • Skills for Applying Heat and Cold
  • Mobility
  • Plan of Care
  • Skills for Admit, Transfer, and Discharging Patients
  • Documentation Skills
  • Assessment Skills
  • Therapeutic Procedures and Surgery
  • Skills for Care of the Dying Patient
  • Skills for Patients Experiencing Grief and Loss
  • Skills for Managing Pain
  • Skills for Geriatric Care
  • Phlebotomy Skills
Practical Nursing Series:
Titles in the Practical Nursing Series include features such as learning objectives, unit key terms, glossary, “for your information” and “tip” features, learning activities and applications, wraparound teacher editions, answers and grading rubrics, suggested activities, online resources, resource bibliographies, and more. Titles are available in full color.

Contact the Customer Service Division at 800.654.4502 to place your order today!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mike Rowe Speaks To Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

"The Skills Gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work." - Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel series "Dirty Jobs," testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on May 11, 2011. His testimony discusses the disconnect between the American people and how things are made or repaired.

I've listed a few of his points below, but please watch the video or read the full transcript HERE.
"I believe we need a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. A big one. Something that addresses the widening Skills Gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce."

"Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The Skills Gap is real, and it's getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They're retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them."

"Alabama's not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn't a lack of funds. It wasn't a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders."

"In general, we're surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We've pretty much guaranteed it."

"In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We've elevated the importance of "higher education" to such a lofty perch, that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled "alternative." Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as "vocational consolation prizes," best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of "shovel ready" jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel."

"In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a "good job" into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber - if you can find one - is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we'll all be in need of both."

"I encourage you to support these efforts, because closing The Skills Gap doesn't just benefit future tradesmen and the companies desperate to hire them. It benefits people like me, and anyone else who shares my addiction to paved roads, reliable bridges, heating, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing."
I think Mike is exactly right and we need to do more to change the perception of work in this country!

Other resources:
Discover Your Skills
Go Build Alabama
I Make America
Our previous post about Mike Rowe: Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs, and mikeroweWorks

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why Career and Technical Education Should Be a Priority for the U.S.

I read an opinion article on Mashable written by Bob Regan, the Director of Worldwide Primary and Secondary Education at Adobe Systems that I wanted to share with you.

As Regan states:

For today’s students, the experience of going to school can feel like flying in an airplane, minus the excitement of travel. Students enter a world cut off from their own where they are asked to turn off all electronic devices. They can feel trapped, simply staring straight ahead for hours. Without a clear sense of where they are going, many U.S. students simply opt to get off the plane.

In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “… If we want to win the future — if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas — then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” However, the United States now graduates less than 75% of its students. Worse, in sixteen of the biggest cities, the graduation rate is less than 50%.
When Regan discusses Career and Technical Education, he states:
Today’s vocational programs, often referred to as “Career and Technical Education” or CTE, have seen significant gains. The programs start with a specific career focus, such as health sciences, business, or technology. CTE programs provide students with preparation to take careers in specific fields or to continue advanced study in post-secondary programs. The courses are often project-based with outcomes aligning to skills needed for the workplace, not a multiple choice test. Students still memorize content, and they often take college preparatory courses. However, the rationale for this material is connected to the context of their courses.

A notable CTE example is the Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Academies in Florida. Implemented in 2006, the goal of the program was to address a statewide graduation rate of only 71%. The CAPE academies are small schools, often schools within schools, with a specific career focus. They are required to have an explicit industry partnership and provide industry certification, along with a college preparatory curriculum. Students in these programs earn credentials as nursing assistants, Adobe Certified Associates, or law enforcement trainees. (Disclosure: The author is employed by Adobe)

Too often, vocational programs have been thought of as alternatives to college. However Florida has shown that CTE programs can open the door to further education. After only five years, the graduation rate is 88.3% among students enrolled in CAPE academies (and 97.4% for those graduating with technical certifications). At the same time, these students graduate with a significantly higher GPA. While the average GPA in Florida is 2.5 the average among CAPE students earning industry certifications is 3.0.

The contrast between programs focused on testing and others like CTE that bring a more solid context to learning is clear. For our students, success and for the future of the U.S. economy, we need to retire outdated notions of vocational programs.
Cutting CTE programs that keep students engaged in school, while providing vital 21st Century skills, isn't sound financial planning for our schools, students, or our economy. CTE has proven successful at engaging students in learning by putting subject content into a real-world context - and we need to continue to fully fund these essential programs.
Please read the article is its entirety by clicking HERE.

Thanks Ann for sharing this article!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Try Wisc-Online: A Great "No Cost" Digital Library of Web-Based Learning Resources

Wisc-Online is a "no cost" digital library of Web-based learning resources called "learning objects."

Mae's Illness
The digital library of objects has been developed primarily by faculty from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and produced by multimedia technicians who create the learning objects. These learning objects are basically small chunks of learning that include animations, simulations, case studies, drill and practice, and templates.

I think the learning objects provide a great instructional supplement so I hope you will take a look at the following learning objects offered by Wisc-Online:

ELL, English, Family Literacy, Financial Literacy, Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies

Accounting, Business Law, Business Technology, Entrepreneurship, Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Leadership Development, Managing for Quality, Marketing, Organizational Development, Paralegal, Personal Skills for Supervisors

General Education:
Anatomy and Physiology I, Anatomy and Physiology II, Biochemistry, Biology, Contemporary American Society, Economics, Foreign Language, General Chemistry, General Math, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Microbiology, Nanotechnology, Oral / Interpersonal, Psychology of Human Relations, Speech, Technical Communications, Technical Math, Technical Physics I, Technical Reporting,
Written Communication

Clinical Lab Technician, Denta, Dental Hygiene, Dietary, EMS, General Health, Medical Assistant, Nursing,
Occupational Therapy Assistant, Radiography, Surgical Technology

Professional Development:
Adjunct Faculty Certificate, Assessment, Curriculum Design, eTools, ITV Teacher Training, Online Teacher Training, Professional Portfolio Development, Teaching Tools

Barber/Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Housekeeping Management, Instructional Assistant, Responsible Beverage Server

Aeronautics, Agriculture, Automotive Technology, Cabinet Making - Millwork, Core Skills, Electrical,
Electronics - AC, Electronics - DC, Electronics - Digital, Electronics - Solid State, Engineering, Fabrication,
Flexography, Graphics, Hydraulics/Pneumatics, Industrial Automation, Machine Tool, Measurement, Mechanical Design, Natural Resources, Plumbing, Process Control, Quality, Safety, Veterinary Technician,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Legal Office Assistant Assessment and Skills Standards from the CareerTech Testing Center

I wanted to announce the new Legal Office Assistant skills standards and assessment being offered by the CareerTech Testing Center.

We are also very pleased to announce that the skills standards have been aligned with NALS...the Association for Legal Professionals.

The following duty areas comprise the skills standards (take a look at each duty area on the standards for the specific tasks within each duty area):
  • Demonstrate Proper Use of Basic Legal Concepts and Terminology
  • Demonstrate Grammar Usage Skills
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Communication Skills
  • Create Legal Correspondence
  • Create and Format Court and Legal Documents
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Mail Handling Procedures
  • Demonstrate Appropriate Filing Procedures
  • Demonstrate Knowledge of Basic Accounting Terms and Procedures
  • Demonstrate Familiarity with Computer Information Systems
  • Demonstrate General Legal Knowledge
  • Demonstrate Knowledge of Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility
  • Demonstrate Time Management Skills
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.

Visit NALS, the association for legal professionals. NALS remains a leader in the legal services industry offering professional development by providing continuing legal education, certifications, information, and training to those choosing the legal services industry as their career. NALS members represent every area of this industry from paralegals and legal assistants to legal administrators and office managers. Because of this diversity and an openness to welcome all members of the industry, NALS offers a broad spectrum of expertise to make the programs offered valuable to all members of the legal services industry. This allows NALS members to learn about other areas of the industry, making career enhancement as well as advancement easily attainable

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Snip.ly and SnipSnip.It: Sharing the Best Parts of Webpages and Videos

Here are a couple of sites, Snip.ly and SnipSnip.It that could be useful for the classroom, presentations, websites, or blogs.

Snip.ly is a service for snipping and sharing parts of webpages. When you want to share just a portion of a webpage with someone you can now highlight the text you want and share it via email, Twitter, or Facebook. To do this you can either use the browser extensions offered by Snip.ly or copy a url into Snip.ly. Either way Snip.ly allows you to highlight text on the page and it will generate a new url that features the text you highlighted.

Snip.ly also allows you to comment on the things you snip. This allows an instructor to add additional resources, comments, or questions and if students are snipping, then they can add their own comments or resources as well.

SnipSnip.It is a service for snipping and sharing a small portion of a whole video. Simply copy and paste a YouTube url, choose the start and end point and click “snip”. After snipping your video you can embed the shortened video on a website or blog or share the shortened video with a link.

I think this is a great way to crop videos to share with students either by URL or by embedding the shortened video into a class blog or website. Some videos are just too long, so SnipSnip.It allows you to highlight only the key aspects without spending so much time searching for the key points. In other words, it allows you to get rid of the fluff in any video.
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