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Biting off more than I could chew

I can chew with the best of ’em, but I was not able to pull of the blogging feats I hoped to accomplish this week. The planned (and much hyped!) series on “Facilitating Technology Integration” did not happen. I underestimated the amount of energy it takes to drive around a mountainous state, visit 3-5 schools per day and ask the same questions over and over. On top of that, by the time I was able to retreat to my hotel du jour, I had…get this…(“real”) work to do! Plenty of it, too, including finishing a complex pre-proposal for a grant competition. So, for the three of you who were waiting with bated breath for my chronicles, I apologize profusely. To myself, I apologize as well.

Some notable “highlights” of my week:

  • It’s not hard to understand why they call West Virginia “The Mountain State.” I drove on some windy roads that make the Pacific Coast Highway seem straight.
  • I love some of the names of towns I drove through or past. Consider just these: Hurricane, WV; Nitro, WV; Pax, WV. Also, at one point, I drove past a street called Polemic Run Road. Do you think the people who live there even know what a polemic is? I had to look it up to remind myself.
  • I visited schools in some of the poorest rural communities I’ve ever seen. If I tell you I saw over one hundred rundown, abandoned shacks on the side of the road this week, I’d be sorely underestimating. I try not to impose my own values, but I couldn’t help feeling sad for people who live in those areas. Maybe they feel sad for me and how complicated my life is? Maybe they’re right?
  • In response to Scott McLeod’s post about the role of school leadership in school reform, Stephen Downescommented about “grassroots” change (my interpretation of his comment). Tim Stahmer agreed. Well, fair enough. But, in many of the communities I visited this week, there will be no grassroots movement. There is simply not enough, if any, social or cultural capital in the communities. Leadership is, therefore, so vitally important in the schools that serve those communities.
  • Implementation of the technology support position I am studying is so incredibly varied. It turns out, IMHO, that I’m not studying A singular intervention; rather, I believe I saw 14 different models in 14 different schools. How one goes about facilitating technology integration depends on many factors, largely wrapped up in what I would call the ecology of the school. More on that some day…
  • The fascination with interactive white boards, oy…i guess if kids get pleasure out of touching the screen and get engaged in the learning process that way, then there’s some value. But, for now, I question the cost-effectiveness of IWBs. Hopefully they’re being installed now so that down the road there are more applications that make them worthwhile.
  • Finally, I saw some practices and conditions that I would deem progressive and/or promising, but the old Rip Van Winkle joke about schools is not so funny anymore. It’s really remarkable how a school and classroom in Mt. Hope, WV looks exactly like a school and a classroom in Pheonix, AZ (I picked a west coast city where I’ve actually been in multiple schools). So, with that, I leave you with this (for those who haven’t already seen it):

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