Catholic Schools Week 2011

Catholic Schools Week in 2011 starts on January 31st. It is a time for celebrating the many wonderful facets of our Catholic Schools. At Catholic Schools everywhere, our schools are full of celebrations of faith, school community and service.

A+ For America
A+ For America

The Theme for Catholic Schools Week is A+ For America is outlined be NCEA.

This focuses on quality of Catholic schools and Catholic School Students provide to the School and Community.

  • High Academic Standards, Graduation Rates
  • Contribution to Society
  • High Level of Service
  • Helping Others as a Focus
  • Serving in and Giving back to the Community as Citizens

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools Catholic Schools Week 2011

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools have a week of celebration ahead. Visit our OCE website for full details.  The kick off event is the Distinguished Graduates event. The event honors the very special contributions of specific graduates. One of the honorees was the alumni team of St. Thomas More high school. Though the school closed in 1975, this special group has stayed together and gives back to Catholic Education raising up to $500,000  for student tuition over the years. Their foundation in faith and service is evident in the work they do. At the event, the group gathered for a photo and to sing their school song part of which is captured below.

“This year’s theme for Catholic Schools Week acknowledges that Catholic Education has been a driving force in our communities across America and an asset in serving our fellow neighbors,” said Most Reverend Michael J. Fitzgerald, who oversees Catholic education on behalf of Cardinal Rigali. “During the week, thousands of students across the Archdiocese will bring the theme of ‘A+ for America’ to life by participating in service projects that demonstrate the intangible value of Catholic education and the full academic and spiritual development that it provides our youth.”

On Monday, January 31 at 1 p.m., Most Reverend Michael J. Fitzgerald, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, and Superintendent of Schools Mary Rochford will join members of the Office of Catholic Education staff in a special Catholic Schools Week Kick-Off Event using Skype. Elementary students and secondary students from all over the Archdiocese will Skype into Archdiocesan headquarters at 222 North 17th Street and visually demonstrate how they are celebrating Catholic Schools Week at their school.

Catholic School’s Week Resources for Schools

  1. Skype Around the World Wiki -I have invited Catholic Schools to take advantage of this activity on my wiki Catholic School Connect and help to build a map showing schools who have connected around the world.Religion Teacher Blog – Catholic School’s Week Activities profiled thereCatholic School Chronicle – Share your Catholic School’s Week Plans here.
  2. Religion Teacher Blog – See some activities profiled here
  3. Catholic School Chronicle – Nick Senger invites schools to share their activities here.
  4. Catholic Education Resources Wiki Resources for Catholic Schools Week

Virtual Academy for Teachers

There is no turning back. The ever growing set of professional development resources online makes it easy for teachers to have quality, effective professional development online from any location in the comfort of their own homes or classrooms. Evidence of the growth in online learning is compelling. Designing online professional development for teachers at our 167  schools made perfect sense.  We decided to set up a Virtual Academy to deliver online professional development to our teachers and administrators.

Two years ago when our schools were participating in a PLP cohort, three things became apparent

  1. Teachers could easily learn online. We had had several online sessions via Elluninate (for webconferencing) and our teachers and administrators really enjoyed it. They liked the online method of professional development. Plus, they could personalize their learning – PLN.
  2. When teachers learn online they experience digital learning, and the power of networked collaboration. They see how technology can enable and enhance learning.
  3. Teacher Reflection and networking play and important role in the learning.

Plan your Sessions: We enlisted the help of Powerful Learning Practice and their Virtual Institute.  Together we designed a set of online sessions for our teachers in the 2009-2010 school year.  In advance, we surveyed our educators to see what topics would be of interest, incorporated our archdiocesan goals of Rigor and Relevance, the TPACK framework and the results of the latest Horizon Report. Session resources are stored on this wiki and session archives from 2009-2010 school year Virtual Academy sessions are here. Sheryl Nussbaum Beach has been an excellent guide in the process. They are also posted on the PLP site under Virtual Institutes.

Listen to Participants: Topics offered reflected a blend of educator requests and diocesan goals.

Set up a Virtual Community: A ning was set up where discussions, resource sharing and reflection could take place. We now have close to 800 educators in our ning. This has been a valuable tool.

Repeat!  Our 2010-2011 Sessions are underway. View our topics and archives.

Philadelphia had 16 inches of snow recently over a 2 day period. It was a heavy, wet snow that shut schools down for 2 1/2 days. One of our online sessions via our PLP cohort was scheduled. We were happy to see 57 teachers arrive in Elluminate. It was great to see that so many took the time during a snow day to further their own professional development.  Anytime, anywhere learning for teachers is here to stay!

Students Own Learning One by One


Welcome Back to our Virtual Academy!

What a way to kick of our 2011 Virtual Academy sessions! We recently held the first of our 2011 Virtual Academy sessions. These are online professional development sessions for our educators across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

20 Years of One to One Laptop Experience – Gary Stager Sharing

Gary Stager has worked with schools for many years and has a sharp focus on student engagement and constructivism.  He helps educators make sense of the extraordinary potential of technology for learning and has worked with schools over the last 20 years in making the shift to One to One Laptop Learning. We were happy to have Gary with us at our first 2011 Virtual Academy session. This post summarizes this session and shares the resources. To listen and watch view the archive linked below along with the other resources shared.

Only inertial and prejudice stand in the way to giving every child access to a computer

Gary reminds us that it is ‘important to focus our energies and funds, schools can get more laptops into the hands of our children. We spend money on music lessons on entertainment on video games and so much more.’ Making laptops available to students more often for more purposes can have a profound impact on the quality of learning. In doing so, classrooms can ‘Be learning centered, provide more collaboration, and enhance learning.’

With technology advancing we can learn and do things that were not possible a few short years ago. More engagement than ever is now possible. It is important to stop believing that we live in a world where kids are not connected.

Expanding access is critically important says Stager. ‘Most children use computers for less than one hour a week. He feels that one reason that technology is not used more in schools is that there simply hasn’t been enough of them to use.

School has always reflected the technology of the day. What is readily available is what is present in schools.

Who is the Technology For?

Before going One to One with laptops for students, schools should determine who will have agency or power.  Who is the technology for?

  1. For the System
  2. For the Teacher
  3. For the Learner

Stager emphasizes that if we emphasize technology For the Learner, only then can we reach the full potential of technology in schools. Summing up the theme of his presentation, in four words, would look like this:

Less Us, More Them

Allow our students to do more and they can learn more.  Laptops create a more student centered, constructivist learning environment and this creates an environment for powerful learning. Stager’s 20 Lessons Learned is below:

20 Lessons Learned on One to One Laptop Classrooms

  1. Determine who has agency – Empower the learner espoused by many such as Seymour Papert
  2. What sort of ‘laptop school’ Move in this direction for the good of the students. Be  one that supports students and supports the use of the technology well.
  3. Set high expectations– Computers are readily available and more affordable than ever before.
  4. The laptops go home – “It is inevitable that all students will have laptops whether we are planning for it or not” Move towards one to one access if at all possible.
  5. Behave as if the laptops are personal computers – ‘The notion of personal is important’ Personal gives ‘ownership’ of the item and the learning.
  6. Children need real multimedia portable computers – The laptop hardware and software should enable the capacity to learn and create with the tools given.
  7. Laptops make good teachers better – They act as a magnifier onto our current practice.
  8. The network is not the computer – Trade laptops for wired computers. Heavy investments in infrastructure and server storage may be less necessary in laptop schools.
  9. Every child’s laptop is a studio, laboratory, publishing house – Actions and activities should flow towards student creativity, problem solving
  10. 1:1 is cost effective– nobody washes a rental car. Shift as much agency and ownership to the student as possible.
  11. Every laptop needs open-ended creativity software, but less is more if fluency is the goal – Young people ‘can learn to sing and dance and create on their computers. We need to empower students for these learning purposes.’  Software determines what you do and what you do determines what you learn. Microwolds Ex, Pixie or Imageblender, Animationish, InspireData, Comic Life, Scratch, Pico Cirickets and Wedo, I Work Pages,Keynote, Numberrrrs and Ilife for Imovie, Iphoto, Garageband, Iweb and Idvd are software examples cited.
  12. Seize the impossible – Imagine, build, create. Students will pleasantly surprise you in what they make and build.
  13. That is what it looks like if students have time -“Less us, more them” The ubiquity of one to one computing can transform the work that is done when fully supported. Provide the professional development time, the student time, the software, connectivity and more. Support it fully for best effect.
  14. Entire cohorts of students need to get laptops at once –  Choose full groups of students for one to one access. Example – One class or floor at a time.
  15. There is zero benefit in giving laptops to teachers first – Don’t make students wait until teachers have had new computers first. Teachers can see what is possible and reflect on their practice if they first can see through the eyes and screens of the child,
  16. Professional development must be focused on benefiting learning – Empower teachers with the skills they need to use the applications so that they can encourage the learning with these applications, activities and strategies.
  17. Work with the living and do no harm!
  18. You need sustainable leadership and vision – Have sustained reflection and collaboration for teachers.
  19. Expect everything to change – Laptops are a window onto the future and a magnifying glass on current practice.
  20. We are done arguing! “If you really believe that one to one won’t eventually happen, you will never believe in the future”  It is part of the world of young people today and ‘it is wrong to deprive them of this type of learning.’

The primary job of teaching is to ‘Make Memories’. says Stager.

‘These types of learning environments allow students to engage in a wider deeper range of projects than they ever have before. It is in their realm to do so and we should be using this environment to its greatest potential.’

Less us, more them

Gary was inspirational and it was clear that he had seen results of One to One Laptops from years of hands on experience. As educators, we know that it is imperitive to give our students the best opportunities for learning. Putting the technology into their hands that they now need can open the world to them. It is our job as administrators and teachers to make that happen. We as educational leaders need to support students and teachers in this regard.  Going One to One in schools really helps  ‘teachers to benefit kids by looking through their screens and through their eyes’.

Resources Virtual Academy Session – One to One Resources with Gary Stager:

  • Research on Technology and One to One Learning Environments by Gary Stager
  • Resources from our Virtual Academy – ONE to ONE Resources with Gary Stager Scroll to the bottom. Excellent resources and research materials for One to One Classrooms.
  • Listen to the archive here:

It was a thought provoking session which gave our educators excellent resources for supporting One to One student learning. We are thankful to Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and PLP for helping to bring Gary to our Virtual Academy.

As one school principal said, ‘ This session gave me the exact support and justifications I needed to take the next steps to One to One. I am excited and ready to make this happen in my school’.

EdTech Across the Arch

In working with schools, we as educational administrators hear of many innovative and engaging Instructional Technology uses in classrooms. In this New Year I plan to use the blog to share these uses in a series Ed Tech Across the Arch Tour in our schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. With camera or flip video in hand, I look forward to sharing these uses and some supporting resources.

This is the first in the series and will share technology uses in a One to One Laptop School.

Location: Pope John Paul Catholic School, Royersford, Pa.

Programming with ALICE

The students in Annette Lee’s Business Technology class are using Alice programming software and learning valuable programming and creativity skills. Each student has a netbook and is able to explore and practice the skills for programming. They present their class projects next week. Student Rob Barth said he enjoys using the software and found it easy to use and learn.  Teacher Annette Lee has taught the students many features of the software and has plans for expanding the curriculum to include advanced programming skills.


Alice Programming Resources:

Learn more about ALICE here and here

Dr. Stephen Cooper is a  professor at Perdue University and was formerly with St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He worked with Alice via a grant from the NSF and also spoke to our school business tech teachers and some administrators two years ago. This demonstration showcased the creativity and innovation skills come to the fore with a programming software such as ALICE.

Ebooks in the Classroom

In Janet Wigoff’s Theology classes students are using a blend of new technologies. They do class work using Google Docs. This consists of collaborative documents and forms for submitting assignments and reflections. This is the first year using ebooks. Students overall were very happy with the shift to all electronic books for Theology.  It is easier, more portable, search-able and green they reported!

IMG_0543 IMG_0545


One to One Laptop Sites

One to One Computing Study – Boston College

Links EngagewithTech

1 to 1 Schools Blog

Google Docs

Google Docs

Using Google Docs in the Classroom Jen Dorman, Discovery

Official Google Docs Blog


250 Places for Free Ebooks

7 Place to Find Free Ebooks

Ebook Post – How Do You Read?

It is important to share and celebrate the ways in which students are learning with the latest of instructional strategies and technologies. Do you have a favorite use of one to one laptops to share?

3 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your School Website

Keeping websites up to date is a top priority. One great new addition to our home page in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is a downloadable news widget. Any of our 185 schools or parishes can now add the widget to the
Cool idea! This is always updating and keeping news fresh.

Our schools can add to home pages

Creating Widgets – Some Tool Options Free and pay versions. Pay version is customizable and allows for video and more

This is one fun and creative idea.  Here are some others.

1. Update it regularly – So many interesting activities and events occur each day at every school. Be sure to add new content, event and news so that people are aware of all of the great school happenings.
2. Involve the School Community –  Ask your school community. Use the One Minute School Website Check . This way you involve your school community in the improvements and get a new look at the same
3. Make it Social – Facebook, Twitter and other social sites have gone mainstream. Use them to expand the reach of your school site.

You Will – 2011 Version

This video by AT&T from 1993 talks about future technology capabilities and how they would impact our daily lives. In 1993 I didn’t even have an email address or an internet connection in my home. Many of you might say the same. We listened to these predictions perhaps and thought that this was entirely impossible. As we prepare our children for their future, we as school administrators, as educators need to be able to think with an open mind about the future of learning. This vision is an important part of being a leader. This was shared on twitter by TNW and @niall_fagan

Transcript of Video

Have you ever bought a book from thousands of miles away
Have you ever driven across the country without stopping for directions?
Have you ever sent someone a fax from the beach?
Have you ever paid a toll without slowing the car?
Have you ever bought concert tickets from a cash machine?
Have you ever tucked your baby in from a phone booth?
Have you ever opened doors iwth the sound of your voice?
Have you ever carried your medical history in a wallet?
Have you ever attended a meeting in your bare feet?
Have you ever watched a movie you wanted just when you wanted to?
Have you ever learned special things from far away places?

I watch this and wonder what the 2011 version would say. How will technology advance propel us into new ways of doing things and connecting with one another?How will it impact learning? What would it look like for Education?

Have You Ever – 2011 in Education

Have you ever gotten a degree for a curriculum you built yourself online?
Have you ever used your phone/mobile device to bring an expert speaker into your classroom?
Have you ever designed your own courses for credit?
Have you ever chosen your teachers from an online list?
Have you ever been in a high school classroom discussion from our phone//mobile device with students from all over the world?
Have you ever gotten a degree customized just for your interests?

I started a list above. What should be added to this list?