Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Know Your Texas Legislators #txlege

*Reminder - You can use the link below to find out who representatives you in Texas!*

Thanks to Scott Floyd for posting this committee info (via ATPE). Below are the Texas Legislative Committee assignments (related to education).


The Senate committee assignments for the 82nd Legislature were officially released Jan. 28. Here are the assignments for the public education-related committees:

Senate Education Committee

Florence Shapiro (R–Plano), chairwoman

Dan Patrick (R–Houston), vice chairman

John Carona (R–Dallas)

Wendy Davis (D–Fort Worth)

Mario Gallegos (D–Houston)

Steve Ogden (R–Bryan)

Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo)

Leticia Van de Putte (D–San Antonio)

Royce West (D–Dallas)

Senate Finance Committee (budget)

Steve Ogden (R–Bryan), chairman

Juan Hinojosa (D–Mission), vice chairman

Bob Deuell (R–Greenville)

Robert Duncan (R–Lubbock)

Kevin Eltife (R–Tyler)

Craig Estes (R–Wichita Falls)

Eddie Lucio (D–Brownsville)

Jane Nelson (R–Lewisville)

Dan Patrick (R–Houston)

Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo)

Florence Shapiro (R–Plano)

Royce West (D–Dallas)

John Whitmire (D–Houston)

Tommy Williams (R–The Woodlands)

Judith Zaffirini (D–Laredo)

State Affairs Committee (Teacher Retirement System (TRS))

Robert Duncan (R–Lubbock), chairman

Bob Deuell (R–Greenville), vice chairman

Rodney Ellis (D–Houston)

Troy Fraser (R–Horseshoe Bay)

Joan Huffman (R–Houston)

Mike Jackson (R–La Porte)

Eddie Lucio (D–Brownsville)

Leticia Van de Putte (D–San Antonio)

Tommy Williams (R–The Woodlands)

For full committee assignments, visit www.senate.state.tx.us/assets/pdf/TXSenCmtes82R.pdf.

House of Representatives

House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) released his committee assignments for the 82nd Legislature Feb. 9. Below are the line-ups for the public education-related committees:

House Public Education Committee

Rob Eissler (R–The Woodlands), chairman

Scott Hochberg (D–Houston), vice chairman

Alma Allen (D–Houston)

Harold Dutton (D–Houston)

Ryan Guillen (D–Rio Grande City)

Todd Smith (R–Bedford)

Jimmy Don Aycock (R–Killeen)

Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood)

Mark Shelton (R–Fort Worth)

Mark Strama (D– Austin)

Randy Weber (R–Pearland)

House Appropriations Committee (budget)

Jim Pitts (R–Waxahachie), chairman

Sylvester Turner (D–Houston), vice chairman

Warren Chisum (R–Pampa)

Myra Crownover (R–Lake Dallas)

Dawnna Dukes (D–Austin)

Craig Eiland (D–Texas City)

Helen Gidding (D–De Soto)

Scott Hochberg (D–Houston)

Ruth Jones McLendon (D–San Antonio)

Geanie Morrison (R–Victoria)

John Otto (R–Dayton)

Debbie Riddle (R–Houston)

Mike Villarreal (D–San Antonio)

Jimmy Don Aycock (R–Killeen)

Angie Button (R–Garland)

Drew Darby (R–San Angelo)

Lance Gooden (R–Terrell)

Eric Johnson (D–Dallas)

Susan King (R–Abilene)

Dee Margo (R–El Paso)

Armando Martinez (D–Weslaco)

Doug Miller (R–New Braunfels)

Diane Patrick (R–Arlington)

Charles Schwertner (R–Georgetown)

Mark Shelton (R–Fort Worth)

Raul Torres (R– Corpus Christi)

John Zerwas (R–Katy)

Pensions and Investments (TRS)

Vicki Truitt (R–Southlake) – chairwoman

Rafael Anchia (D–Dallas) – vice chairman

Charles “Doc”Anderson (R–Waco)

Marc Veasey (D–Fort Worth)

Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe)

Ana Hernandez (D–Houston)

Ken Legler (R–Pasadena)

Barbara Nash (R–Arlington)

Rob Orr (R–Burleson)

The full House committee assignments can be found at www.house.state.tx.us/_media/pdf/member.pdf.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Legislative Panel at #TCEA2011

Panel Members:
Rep. Scott Hochberg - Houston
Rep. Mark Strama - Austin
Thomas Ratliff - SBOE - Mt. Pleasant
Scott Floyd - Technologist - White Oak
Melanie Pritchett - Compass Learning - Austin
Frances McArthur - Superintendent - Lexington

Question: Vision for online textbooks (and technology), and what are the challenges/barriers to accomplishing that vision?
(I kind of spaced out at the beginning so I missed the exact opening question and part of Hochberg's response...)

Hochberg- Digital content readily available. Get content at 20% cost via open source providers. A state repository that can be loaded on an iphone and then content can be more accessible from there. Funding will be a challenge as well as equitable access at home for all students.

Pritchett - A vision where choice is critical. Communities need to feel that their schools are the center of the community and that they can make the choice that fits their community. Challenges are how to provide equal access to all children.

Strama - We are teaching the subject, not the children. The only way to customize education to meet every student's needs is through technology. Challenges are along an adoption path. Phrase in the 90s was 'Killer App' - Email. What is going to be the killer app for schools? Probably the conversion of textbooks. This is not the vision he has described, but it might be the killer app that helps you to move along that path. Fund 1:1 programs through the savings of online textbooks, and that solves the equitable access issue. Other challenges, bandwidth, the right hardware, content, and the killer app. Diagnostically deliver the right content to the right kid at the right time, that is the vision. Final barrier is teachers. We can't make it happen from legislative policy. It has to come from the ground up through teachers. Government can support it and help to facilitate it, but can't make it happen. Project Share is the right direction in order to allow teachers to share content so they aren't continually reinventing the wheel.

Floyd - How you deliver the content doesn't change the instruction side of it. If we keep assessing the way we are assessing, then we will keep instructing the way we are instructing. Why do we keep paying the same amount of money every couple of years to repackage and receive the same content? Challenges are in the current system. Be more open with our instructional styles and move towards authentic assessment. Find the content to support those instructional models.

Ratliff - Need the SBOE to evolve because they are living in an 8-track world. Kids have to power down when they come to school. In multiple or ubiquitous formats so that there is equitable access. Universal delivery. SBOE has forgotten that ISD stands for Independent School District. SBOE needs to pull back and give ISDs the resources they need and then get the heck out of the way. If the state can give the content, parents will find the way to get the device to support it. The big elephant in the room is the financing.

McArthur - We are losing teachers and students that are having to power down before class because they aren't engaged and they aren't interested. The range of learners in our classrooms is incredibly diverse. How do we get teachers and students excited about learning again? Diagnose student need, and then effectively place, monitor and adjust instruction based on a daily review of progress. Social media will be a game changer. Challenges are bandwidth, and hardware issues as well as getting access to all students. Textbook adoption processes are also a barrier as they were built with a paper based textbook in mind. We also have issues with teacher training and what technology integration really means and looks like.

Hochberg and then Strama - Asking for feedback on the type of hardware that we should be be using? The legislature is in a fog and not sure where should be going with hardware.
Ratliff - my kids at home only have access to a hard set list of sites, can we do that at schools?
Strama - That can lead to cutting off the magic of the internet by filtering to much.
Floyd - Challenge every teacher in Texas to try to find something they need that is not available in iTunesU or YouTube.
Ratliff - biggest barrier: how do we get a laptop in their hands tomorrow. The device doesn't matter, if we can get you the content the parents or the district can find the way to get the device, and it doesn't have to be the same device. Internet access at home is not a show stopper in terms of the textbook discussion.
Hochberg - We have to be careful. Things that are supposed to be temporary in the legislature tend to hang around. Spending another billion dollars on textbooks will not get us any closer to where we want to be.

All in all I was surprised (in a good way) by most of the thoughts shared by the panel. I was concerned however, that there was a lack of understanding (by the elected officials) with respect to CIPA and E-rate. These are pretty major components of Edtech. This definitely reinforces the idea that we need to continue to find ways to reach out to our representatives and help to educate them on the issues that we are dealing with. The reps on this panel definitely seemed to want more information.

Lonestar Edubloggercon at TCEA #lsebc11

What a great day at Lonestar Edubloggercon. It was the first time for me to attend the entire event. I made it to the last half of Edubloggercon at ISTE10 this past summer. I highly recommend this event to anyone who wants to have some amazing conversations. I think the "un"conference style really allows for so much more learning than a standard conference style presentation. All of the sessions I attended were informative and engaging. And all around fun to be a part of.

You can find out more information about future Edubloggercon events here.

Learning Spaces discussion - #lsebc11

Sitting in a discussion at Lonestar Edubloggercon listening to David Jakes (@djakes) and Ryan Bretag (@ryanbretag) talking about learning spaces.

Where does learning happen? It should happen in the whole building.
Build the space you want teachers to work in, then bring them to that space to train them. Let them experience learning themselves in that space. Model the space with them. Don't just try to create the space and expect them to change.

What does it mean to be well educated? And what type of space allows that to happen? These are the questions that we should be asking.

Turn non-learning spaces into non-traditional learning spaces. Google learning streets to get some more ideas.

Resources to look at:
Flickr search for learning commons
Google search for learning streets
Learning Spaces Educause e-Book

Proactive Network Monitoring - Ensuring Education Comes First

I got to give a presentation yesterday at TCEA2011 in the Systems Administrator Academy. The session was titled: Proactive Network Monitoring - Ensuring that Education Comes First.

Here is the link to my Prezi: http://bit.ly/gPNxGP

The first part of the session was discussing the following tools:
FireGen - A syslog analysis tool (review your routers system logs in a more visual format)
PRTG - A network monitoring tool that will allow you to create ping sensors as well as bandwidth monitors (via SNMP) to proactively monitor the status of your circuits.

Then we moved into a discussion on Content Filtering and how your filter works.

The final section of the discussion (and the most important in my eyes) was based on how you are using all of this information to make more educated discussions about how you are filtering and allowing for more flexible use of the internet. This is an aspect that we must continue to fight for! Our students and teachers need to have access to web 2.0 tools and social media at school in order to learn how to use these tools responsibly.

I also took a few minutes and showed a clip from Alec Couros' TEDx Talk which you can find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxSyqa6Hpq8
The clip I showed was from the 14 minute mark to about the 17 minute mark. I was hoping to show some of those in attendance the types of things teachers can create when these types of tools are open.

The last thought in my presentation was:

Let's make sure that WE are not the limit to our student's learning!