Reading to children is a good summer activity

You can spark your child’s imagination with reading, which allows playful creativity to take over and learning to ensue. Whether you, your child or someone else does the reading, there’s sure to be a memory produced, experience gained or knowledge added when there’s a favorite book or story involved. For more information on the importance of youth reading, visit


New Podcast: DP Tech!

Hey Ed Tech lovers! The DePorres Pages is launching a new tech show call DP Tech.  DP Tech is dedicated to helping to use technology to facilitate teaching and learning.  As a Catholic educator, there will be a special emphasis on Catholic schools, and how technology can help to facilitate instilling the Catholic mission of the school.

You can listen to this podcast just as you listen to others.  You can come to the website, or subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app.  If you have subscribed to our daily homilies, you are already set! Hopefully you will enjoy this new look at technology!

How an unqualified Betsy DeVos might actually set school choice back

In general, I believe a president should be able to surround himself with people that support the agenda he was elected on by the citizens who voted.  It seems to me the appropriate place for disagreement and discussion about policy best occur when it is done by elected officials, where every 2, 4, 6 or 8 years voters have the opportunity to weigh in on their evaluation of their elected officials’ performance.

But on the confirmation, yesterday of Betsy DeVos, as Secretary of Education, 2, 4, 6 or 8 years of her being in this job are 2, 4, 6 or 8 years too many.  It is not because I disagree with some of the policies that she might support.  In general, I do wish there were mechanisms to allow students in failing schools to leave the school and choose to go somewhere else. I do wish that those for whom paying private school tuition is a significant economic burden could get some tax relief.  My problems are not about policy.

My problems are about an absolutely unqualified person to be the Secretary of Education.  Ms. Devos did not know even rudimentary educational terms, concepts or laws.  If you are going to advise states and help them, you need to understand whether or not the type of measurement you are going to use is standards (proficiency) or by the level of improvement by each individual student (growth).

If you are going to advise and assist states, you need a fundamental grasp of the current educational law.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is not a new idea.  It has been the law, under a couple of names since 1975.  The basic reason for the law is the belief that all children, regardless of ability, deserve a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  Not only is this law not new, it has been tried and upheld in the courts as the right thing to do under the constitution.

These two concepts are basic undergrad concepts.  It is unbelievable that Devos was unprepared for even these basic, rudimentary questions.  How will she protect constitutional rights of students if she does not understand the basic laws in place to do so?  How can she help local states and school districts get better if she does not even know how to define what better means in education?

And when she was able to influence educational policy, what were the results?  Consider what the Michigan Board of Education president said to Education Week about her.  “Under the guise of expanded choice, the DeVos’ have been the agents of a purposeful effort to dismantle the traditional public schools and teachers unions even if the choices that are created don’t educate kids,” he said. “I’m pro-choice and pro-charter if it’s quality and about educating kids. They’re for choice for choice sake, as a vehicle to try and destroy the existing public school infrastructure.”

Even Republicans who supported her had to get promises from her that she would not push strongly for a federal voucher program.  And when the Michigan experience is considered, the results are poor at best.  There is little accountability for the $1 billion spent on charter schools in Michigan.  Moreover, there is not any state that has as many for-profit charter schools as Michigan.  Consider this for a moment.  A for-profit charter school.  Our students, children who have no choice about whether or not to go to school, are customers, sources of profit for a company.  And, consider further that graduation rates have been quite poor, especially in Detroit schools where many of these charter schools are.

Even the data collection agencies that DeVos’ supporters cite show that charter schools in Michigan have not lifted more students to high achievement.  In fact, for the twenty years of charter schools in Michigan, almost two of every three charter schools are well below state standards.  In fact, they are not performing any differently than the public schools they criticize.  And when considering some of the most challenging students to teach, charter schools do not do any better in Michigan.  The difference? Less accountability and more profit for the charter school operators.

To be sure, there are some high-performing charter schools.  But, there are some high performing public schools too.  In many ways, the poor education is received in areas of high poverty, where there is little real school choice, unlike the wealthy who have for some time been able to choose where their children go to school.  And what is the value of deconstructing the public accountability that schools should have if it is not available to the students who need it most?

And when standardized tests are considered in high schools, 14 of the 16 charter high schools did worse than the Detroit Public School high school.  While neither ACT average was great, the claim that students would do better if their parents had a choice, that the existence of such a choice would cause schools to improve, has not been the case.

If schools were run like businesses, there would be an important emphasis on data.  But it is the reliance on data, this lack of accountability that is precisely the problem in the programs that DeVos’ has pushed.  Rather than look at high-performing charter schools, looking at hard data, DeVos advocated creating even more for-profit charter schools with no oversight or accountability, just profits for those who ran them.

And this lack of oversight championed by DeVos will not help the school choice movement, it will hurt it.  If there is no proof that charter schools perform better than public schools, and that they might even do worse, who would reasonably support school choice?

And this is sad.  There are good reasons to support school choice.  But there must also be accountability that the money is given to educate students is, in fact, helping students to grow.  If charter schools provide the chance to improve students’ learning, lessons gained from them might be applied to other schools, even traditional public schools.

For that is the great promise of charter schools: the chance to try new ways to educate students, and then to measure the outcomes to see if students are better off or not.  School choice has every promise of making parents become more involved in school, as the next school is not a default choice, but is one where ownership is developed because of parents’ choosing what is best for their children.

And so while Trump supporters hail the unqualified choice of DeVos, with the illusion that school choice and vouchers and other initiatives will sweep the nation, there is the very real fear that an extremely unqualified Secretary of Education will make things worse in these very areas.

Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2016 is January 31 – February 6. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2016 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

Read more at:

From the ASCD This Week

How To Connect Your School With The Community One Picture At A Time

By Adam Holman

My timing has never been the best; I first heard of teachers maintaining a “180 Blog” after I left the classroom to begin my administrative journey. But the allure of a blog where you upload one picture a day from your classroom was too strong, and thus myAdmin180 blog was born in the summer of 2013. I was so excited “to be a “blogger” that I actually started posting more than two weeks before the school year started, using negative numbers to describe the days leading up to Day 1.

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20 Things Strong Leaders Do: Challenge Yourself To Do Something New

By Tisha Shipley

As teacher professionals, we are all leaders in some capacity. It is important as leaders that we show others how to be their best selves. We need to model for others and support choices and decisions. We must also build reciprocal relationships with the faculty, staff, and families we work with. I have been in several leadership positions, from cheer sponsor to principal to director of a program at the university level to coordinator of an early childhood program to, most recently, chair of an early childhood program. Being a leader usually consists of more stressful situations, a larger workload, and guiding others that look to you as someone that has a little power in decision making. Whether these are all true or not, you have the ability to be a leader that influences others in a positive and supportive way. These are things I have learned over the last 15 years of being a leader and being lead.

Read more at:


Future of Education Technology Conference 2016

On January 12-15, the Future of Education Technology Conference occurred in Orlando, Florida. The DePorres pages was there, and we will be posting some highlights of our time there in the days ahead. This year’s conference focused on the following areas, each explained below as described on the FETC website.

Communication and Collaboration Presentations address how educators can manage and utilize technology to communicate with colleagues, parents, students and the broader community, as well as to create mutually beneficial school-community partnerships using a variety of communication tools including Web portals, wikis, websites, email and electronic notifications. These presentations also showcase how educators are utilizing technology to incorporate global activities that connect students internationally through project-based learning, e-pals, online projects, virtual communication, multi-cultural application development and on-site visits.

Digital Teaching Tools and Game-Based Learning Presentations address electronic content and digitized materials for students, as well as instructional technologies and digital toolkit enabling instructors to customize learning materials, introduce content and engage students with Web 2.0 creativity tools. Presenters will demonstrate how to leverage growing online resources, Web tools and burgeoning digital knowledge base.

Educational Policy and Leadership Presentations focus on educational policy and the use of technology as a strategic tool for school improvement and transformation, including: state/federal technology grants, data-driven decision making, teacher evaluation tools, how to make purchasing and budgeting decisions, facilities management, and implications of the national standards. Presentation topics will also feature data and communications for instructional information processing and reporting, including Web development, dashboards, databases and student information systems.

Emerging Technologies and Maker Tools Presentations explore how to incorporate emergent technologies, nascent digital tools and technological resources to enhance education and the learning environment as well as to solve educational issues. These initiatives represent the most innovative thinking in the application of technology and technology strategy in education and are highly regarded models of adoption in the education technology community.

Instructional Design Presentations address how educators and students are using available technologies to expand their learning environment beyond the classroom and engage all learners. Presenters will share practical strategies used by effective faculty to plan, integrate curriculum and manage technology in their classrooms. You’ll also learn how educators and students are using the online and hybrid learning environments to promote high academic performance.

Mobile Learning Presentations spotlight how educators and learners utilize tablets, eReaders, Netbooks, laptops, smartphones, iPads and other mobile devices to enhance the learning environment, deliver curriculum and content using an untethered method to foster student engagement, and build learning communities. Best practices shared will highlight effective teacher technology integration training and just-in-time technology solutions to common problems.

Online and Blended Learning Presentations describe methods of teaching and learning in which the online delivery of content is facilitated by various technologies including video, voice, audio, online collaboration tools and correspondence over the Internet. Highlighting technologies that offer a great deal of flexibility in when, where and how education is distributed, presentations feature ways to improve interactive communication, assessment, feedback, support and content delivery whether it is synchronous or asynchronous.

Professional Development Presentations include a variety of specialized training, formal education or advanced professional learning to help administrators, teachers and other educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill and effectiveness. Presenters will demonstrate effective professional development programs including furthering education and knowledge in a teacher’s subject area, funding models, delivery methods, action research, mentoring structures, specialized techniques, certification approaches, technological utilization and training procedures.

Technology Infrastructure Presentations focus on the use of technology infrastructure to support the management of information systems and learning environments such as desktop virtualization, implementation of 1:1 computing, solutions to bandwidth issues, implementation of wireless environments and the roll out of mobile devices. Presentations can also focus on campus safety and security (i.e. cyberbullying and security within social networking, as well as campus-wide security issues).

For 36 years, FETC has brought together more than 8,500 education leaders and technology experts to exchange techniques and strategies for teaching and learning success. Known worldwide for its outstanding program, FETC provides educators and administrators the opportunity to explore the integration of technology across the curriculum — from kindergarten to college — through hands-on exposure to the latest hardware, software and successful strategies.

FETC offers a wealth of information for all education professionals:

  • Superintendents
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Technology-using Educators
  • District-level Leaders
  • Curriculum Designers
  • Media Specialists
  • Technology Directors/Technologists
  • Instructional Support Staff
  • Non-instructional Support Staff


For more information check out the FETC website at

Education App of the Week: WordPress

It might seem strange that the education app and the education website are the same, but there is a reason for this. First, we are considering the ability to download and install WordPress on your own server to be different than a website. But by going to, you can do just that. Also, there are apps to update your blog, either on or that are available for various platforms.

There is some advantage to hosting WordPress on your own server, or to pay someone to host it. Primary among them is having a unique domain name, instead of relying on the site to host and name your site. There can also be advantages to customizing your installation of the site as well.

The advantages mentioned in the website of the week feature are all available if you choose to host your own copy of the WordPress codex. There are many free templates and plugins to enhance your site. Whether you host it or not, WordPress is worth the mention twice in our education apps and websites of the week.

What Tech does What: A Te@chThought bonus

As the world of technology in education gets overwhelming, we stumbled across this helpful chart from Te@chThought, our Education Website of the Week. Here is part of it below. Read the full post.


What Technology Does What: The Ultimate #edtech Chart For Teachers

by TeachThought Staff

Okay, we’ve had this post half-finished for long enough that some of the apps we had here are no longer relevant, so we figured it was probably time to go ahead and publish it even if we couldn’t figure out the best way to format it.

This is what we hope will be an ongoing collection of the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom. We’d like to see it crowdsourced, so we may convert it to a public document/wiki-type file at some point. We’ll also try to add to it ourselves as technology suggests itself that we haven’t considered (or just plain forgot about). We’ll also try to add more links, categorize more neatly, etc.

We may even just crowdsource it–open it up as a wiki and let you add your expertise. If a list like this isn’t updated frequently–which takes a crowd–it’s next to worthless in a hurry. If you have an idea on how to optimally format a list like this, let us know in the comments.

Education Website of the Week: Free Technology for Teachers

Free Tech for Teachers

This site is just what it says. The excerpt below is from the website.

I am a former high school social studies teacher best known for developing this blog. I taught for eight and a half years at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, ME. During that time I piloted 1:1 laptop use before the program went school-wide. I coordinated a “laptop squad” to support teachers’ use of laptops in their classrooms. I also served on a number of curriculum and assessment committees.

I have been invited to speak at events all over North America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. My work is focused on sharing free web-based resources that educators can use to enhance their students’ learning experiences.

I am a five time winner of the Edublogs Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog. I became a Google Certified Teacher in 2009. In 2012 I received a Merlot Classics award from chancellor’s office of California State University. In 2010 I was a finalist for ACTEM’s (Association of Computer Teachers and Educators in Maine) educator of the year award. Tech & Learning Magazine named me one of their “people to watch” in their 100@30 30th Anniversary celebration (

On a daily basis Free Technology for Teachers reaches a subscriber base of more than 60,000 educators. In addition to writing Free Technology for Teachers, I also maintain,, and My printed work includes a monthly column for School Library Journal, contributing author to What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, and contributions to Teacher Librarian.

I believe that when used correctly, technology has the power to improve student engagement and student achievement. I also believe that technology gives teachers the ability to form powerful, global, professional learning communities.

I am a Google Certified Teacher.

I am available for professional development workshops. I can offer workshops on the use of video creation tools in all subject areas as well as workshops about classroom uses for Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Search, and developing an online personal learning community. I can also customize a workshop specifically for your group. If you are interested in having me conduct a workshop for your school or conference, please contact me via email at richardbyrne (at)

Education App of the Week: MathSpace

Mathspace is a free app (there are in app ads) that allows students to write on tablets to solve math problems, and to revive feedback right away about how they are doing. In the United States the problems are suited to the Common Core for Middle School math, pre-algebra and algebra I. With over 10,000 problems, students can practice Math, get help and receive instant feedback.

Mathspace basis the problems in the performance of the student, so the next question, problem or skill is uniquely based to the performance of each student. It is available for Windows, Android and Apple devices.