We’re doing it!

Last March, I was selected from a pool of 13 to be one of five Semi-Finalists for Maine State Teacher of the Year. For the past five months I have been working on a portfolio and a lesson. It has been a grueling process and really made me reflect on my practice and hw technology fits in to good teaching and learning. It made me very uncomfortable, yet pushed me in many directions.

Yesterday, all five semi-finalists presented their “lesson” to candidates in the Masters Teaching Program at The University of Maine. Each lesson was completely different, but all of them used technology in some way. One of the evaluators told me that this was the first year everyone came with a computer. (an aside: Interestingly, the students did not have computers, an major change for me. I am used to students being dually engaged with the teachers and the computer, not just the teacher. It made me realize how much technology is around me all the time.)

While driving home, I was reminded of David Warlick’s post about technology conferences he has attended: “This is one of those very unique conferences, the quality of which I first saw when I keynoted the state ed tech conference (ACTEM) in Maine a number if years ago. It took me months to realize what was different — what that quality was, even though it was really quite obvious. It was a prevailing sense that anything/everything that was being suggested, introduced, taught, or discussed at that conference could be taken back to the schools and implemented.” ACTEM has tried to make the focus of the conference be about teaching and learning.

The work we are all doing as workshop leaders, integrators and conference presenters IS filtering down to the classroom. It’s being remixed and used for creative projects and assignments. And the results are impressive. It was great to see all the wonderful work being done in our classrooms and that the MLTI and technology is making a difference for our schools.

Original image: ‘_DSF6082
by: marco antonio torres

Schools should prepare our students for the 21st century in the ways they learn best, no matter how they learn.

talk “You had such a great quote on Twitter, Mrs. Barr!” This was the start to one of three conversations I had with students and teachers today. I swear the stars were aligned for learning!

1) Two students were filling in a worksheet and complaining all the way. “What are we learning from this?” asked one. “Nothing” said the other. They proceeded to grouse when I asked them, “What would the perfect class look like”? We proceeded to have a 30 minute conversation on the 70/30 model of Google, learning styles, virtual schools, traditional models of classrooms, public policy in education, and the School 2.0 poster hanging in my room. During the exchange, the principal wandered in and added a few comments and ideas. As we neared the end of class, the most skeptical of the two students said “Where is all this going, we can’t do anything about changing school.” To which the principal replied ” In the last school I was at, I consulted on an independent study called “Design Your Own School”. Draft a proposal and I’ll mentor you.” I hope they write that proposal.

2) Two students were sitting in the computer lab during study hall. One said he loved my quote on Twitter and read it to the other. “That’s cool Mrs. Barr. I wish some other teachers taught us that way.” We then had a conversation about all the different ways teachers teach and what qualities of teaching students think work best in the classroom. One of the students is considering going in to teaching. He is very aware that a teacher must not only know his subject but also be able to “know” his students. He feels that the teachers that he works the best with, really know him and his learning style.

3) A teacher who attended a session on wikis and collaboration by two other teachers in our building  wants to continue the conversation and learn more with her group. She is going to the Leadership team to propose a Community of Practice around that learning.

Whew! I love these kinds of days! I am so lucky to work with some very smart teachers and students!

Gr8t Tweets Month coming in March

David Truss and friends came up with a fun idea to try during the month of March and then asked some of us to start Twittering:

“For the month of March, a group of educators and lifelong learners will be picking a

“Tweet of the day”

and Re-Tweeting it with the tag: #gr8t

Hopefully, you will join us in doing this too!

There are a number of reasons why you might want to participate:

• To share what you value about twitter.
• To see what others value about twitter.
• To celebrate the power and wisdom of your Personal Learning Network.
• To find interesting people to follow on Twitter.
• To commit to trying out twitter for a month.

My personal choice for what to retweet with #gr8t will be a Tweet that I find interesting, or insightful, or humorous. It might link to something I enjoyed reading, or it might have something profound or even fortune-cookie-like that appeals to me, like these tweets that I’ve ’stared’ as favourites:


Even if you aren’t on twitter or you don’t want to participate, be sure to check out the Gr8Tweets wiki and see some of the reasons why so many educators are finding Twitter a valuable tool! There aren’t really any rules to participate: Find a tweet you value, and share it via twitter! End your Great Tweet with this hash tag: #gr8t

It’ll automatically show up on the Gr8Tweets wiki and on twitter searches for others to see and share.

I’m looking forward to sharing the Gr8tweets that I find, at least one daily for the month of March, and I’m hoping you will join me and share what you find.
Feel free to follow Gr8tweets on Twitter and Gr8tweets will follow you back, (this part is totally optional).

I can’t say enough about how Twitter has influenced my learning and professional practice. Think of this experience as a giant collection of resources you’ll be exposed to! If you would like to join me, I am alicebarr, To get started go here and sign up here. Other folks to follow (and the organizers of this project) are @datruss, @deacs84, @lizbdavis, @hhg, @suewaters, @budtheteacher or @dkuropatwa You can Tweet any of us and we would be happy to help.

You can search and follow the g8t Tweets conversation:


7 Things Meme


Selena Ward and Cheryl Oakes both tagged me for this meme. Always late to the party, I am finally getting to it. You are supposed to write 7 things your PLN wouldn’t know about you. So here goes.

I met Seymour Papert in 1985 in Dallas Texas. He inspired me to learn Logo and take the master’s program at Lesley University.

I have 4 younger brothers. When we get together, it’s wild and crazy and mostly just like when we grew up. We have some silly nicknames and words for things that anyone who listens to us must think we’re nuts! The youngest picks on me the most. Still.

I met my husband in Cali, Colombia. Our meeting was almost exactly the same as when Jack meets Joan in Romancing the Stone, except I was NEVER a romance writer!

I used to be a kindergarten teacher. My first teaching job was at a private school in Dallas, Texas, a place I fondly refer to as “my first overseas post”.

When I was a freshman in high school, I was the fives champion for my house at St. Leonard’s School for Girls.

My husband and I acquired a Verreaux’s Eagle-owl in 1989. We lived in Mogadishu, Somalia at the time. The bird had broken both of it’s wings in 2 different accidents, so it could not fly. It used to hang out in my husband’s lectern in his classroom, and when the students came in and sat in their chairs, “Einstien” as he came to be known, would hop up and down the aisles, greeting each student. He had no idea he was supposed to be nocturnal. When we were evacuated from Somalia in 1990, Einstein rode in the front seat of the U.N. plane piloted by a friend. He was picked up in Nairobi, by other friends of ours and lived on their farm for the rest of his life.

I HATE to cook

I’m not tagging anyone. But if you feel like joining in you can add to the 7 Things wiki