Thursday, July 22, 2010

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

(10 bonus points for anyone who gets the reference in this post's title!)

As some of you may have heard, I have recently accepted a job with Hamden Public Schools, and so will be vacating my position here at CSDE in the next few weeks (August 5th is my final day with the state). Although I am very excited to work at the district level and more directly with teachers and students, it is with deep sadness that I leave the Department and the opportunity to direct programs and policies at the state level and connect with educational leaders like you.

Although at this time, it is not possible to hire a replacement for me, I am confident that our many visionary regional and district educational technology leaders will work together to continue to move our agenda forward and keep Connecticut teachers and administrators informed about relevant ed tech news and advancements.

I am truly grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded as your state educational technology director, and for the chance to collaborate with so many of you over the years. I look forward to continuing our connections, though in a different capacity, to promote uses of technology that truly make a difference in students’ educational experiences, both in school and beyond.


(After August 18th, you can reach me and my avatar at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Commission for Educational Technology Meeting - June 16th

Are you tired of final exams, graduation ceremonies, senior pranks and all the other end of year drama in your district?  Consider attending the final meeting for the year of the Commission for Educational Technology, to be held at the Legislative Office Building (next door to the Capitol) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 from 10:00-12:00 in Hearing Room 1C.

We are fortunate to have a guest presenter for this meeting – Dr. Don Leu, the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology at the University of Connecticut. Don will speak and answer questions on “How the Internet Redefines Reading, Writing, and Learning: How We Must Respond to Compete in a Globalized, Online World”. As one who has followed Don’s work for several years, I can assure you that his presentation of ideas will give you a lot to think about!  

The meeting is open to the public - all are welcome.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NECC/ISTE Conference - Denver June 2010

It's coming - ISTE 2010 - June in Denver.  I am not able to attend this year :-( but I hope many of my CT colleagues will be!  Please drop me an email if you plan to attend -

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Bloggers Get the News First! - 21st CLE Grant Winners

Since you are one of the faithful (and read this blog), you get rewarded by being the first to view the list of awardees for the 21st Century Learning Environment grants! I'll post below the email that will go out later today to all who submitted proposals.  Take a deep breath all you proposal writers, here goes...


I am happy to report that there was a very high quality of proposals submitted under Connecticut’s Title IID ARRA 21st Century Learning Environment Competitive Grant Program. There were many wonderful, innovative projects proposed, and for this reason, additional money (beyond the $1.4 million originally anticipated) has been approved for use in the program. This will allow us to fund many more proposals than we had originally anticipated.

Based on the proposals received and a rigorous review process, the following 14 proposals were the highest scoring, and will receive full funding for their proposed projects under the Title IID ARRA 21st Century Learning Environments Competitive grant program (listed in alphabetical order):

• ACES (Wintergreen Magnet School)
• Bridge Academy Charter School
• CES (Six-to-Six Magnet School in Bridgeport, Woodbridge Public Schools)
• Common Ground Charter School
• East Haven Public Schools
• Education Connection (Consortia with Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven)
• Hamden Public Schools
• Meriden Public Schools
• New Haven Public Schools
• Norwich Public Schools
• Oxford Public Schools
• Torrington Public Schools
• Windham Public Schools
• Windsor Public Schools

In addition, pending the submission of a revised proposal, several other districts (the next highest scoring) will be partially funded at the level of $100,000. Listed in alphabetical order, these proposals are:

• Brooklyn Public Schools
• CREC (Charter School for Young Children, Hartford, International Magnet School for Global Citizenship, East Hartford, Reggio Magnet School for the Arts, Avon)
• CT Technical High School System
• EASTCONN (Regional School Districts 8, 11, and 19)
• East Windsor Public Schools
• Killingly Public Schools
• LEARN (Regional Multicultural Magnet School and Dual Language Arts Academy, New London)
• Vernon Public Schools
• Waterford Public Schools

For those receiving a reduced amount – I am asking that you meet with a consultant from your RESC to modify/revise your proposal to accommodate the reduction in funds. Please contact the appropriate person as listed here:

ACES: Barbara Haeffner
CES:: Kevin Klemme
CREC: Doug Casey
LEARN Verna Sodano-Richards:

I recognize that some of those receiving less than the requested amount may decide that it is not possible to implement their project, even with modifications. If you are one of those and feel it is not possible, please notify me immediately so that I might fund the next eligible proposal.

Whether or not you are among those who will receive funding for your project, I thank you for your time, interest, and thoughtfulness in the creation of your proposal. I am fortunate to work among so many who believe as strongly as I do that technology can significantly improve learning opportunities for our students.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Request for Videos - Get Those Digital Video Cameras Rolling!

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has just announced a Request for Videos (RFV) that invites schools and organizations to help young people (ages 13-19) to creatively share their insights on how they learn. The Video Challenge is open to public middle and high schools and other education organizations in New England. Organizations submitting the top videos will receive a grant award of up to $5000. The deadline for submitting videos is 5:00 p.m. on May 14, 2010.

For more information and to download the RFV and other materials, please visit the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s website at

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing what the students create - and I would LOVE to see some of Connecticut's students participate!  If your students decide to participate, please send me a link to their video (win or lose)!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Still Waiting... 21st Century Learning Environments Grant Winners


I don't have the results to share just yet for the 21st Century Learning Environments grant program... but one of the reasons this is taking so long is that it appears there MAY be additional funds to support MORE proposals.  So, in this case, no news (yet) may be good news!  Keep checking this blog in the next week or so for an update on this grant program.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The White House Wants to Know - What is a 21st Century Education?

The White House Blog's topic this week is "Education in Focus" and on March 2nd the following question was posted:

What does a 21st century education mean to you?

This is an excellent opportunity to share the power of technology in education and the importance of dedicated funding for educational technology and for 21st century learning environments. This is also a chance to describe the importance of programs like Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) and/or ATTAIN. You might even consider having students respond to the question and explain what a 21st century education means to them.

Details for responding to the White House on this question are available at:  The White House will post some of the best responses and are taking comments on FaceBook, Twitter and Linkedin. I hope that Connecticut will make itself heard in Washington!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Free 'til June 15, 2010 - Discovery Education Elementary Science

Are you from a district who LOVES the Discovery Education Science resources for middle school students?  Well, now you have the chance to have your elementary teachers and students give it a try!

Discovery Education is offering to all elementary schools in Connecticut a trial subscription to their online science resources from now until June 15, 2010.  Webinars on how to use the materials are being run from now through May.

If you are interested in getting this 3+ month subscription for your elementary school or schools, contact Adam Dolan for login information:  800-323-9084, x6786 or

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Farmer’s Almanac and the 21st C Learning Environment RFP

When I first came up with the deadline of Thursday February 11, 2010 for proposal submission of the 21st Century Learning Environment grant, I of course checked the Farmer’s Almanac. It said there would be sunny skies.


From the weather reports and the numerous panicky emails and phone calls I have received, it sounds like February 10th and 11th may be quite snowy this year, making it difficult for some to deliver their proposals for the grant. Although I cannot extend the deadline, I CAN say that proposals must be POSTMARKED by 4:00 pm on Thursday, February 11, 2010, rather than DELIVERED to my office in Hartford by that date and time. It is my hope that this slight change will allow those who are affected by the storm a little bit of a break, knowing that they only have to make it as far as the post office, rather than getting to Hartford. If you mail rather than deliver, please notify Carla Ghostlaw ( that “the RFP is in the mail” so that we will be waiting for it with open arms when it arrives. I’d suggest getting a receipt for your mailing, and sending it Priority Mail, Fed Ex, DHL or some other trackable method… just in case.

Please help me in getting the word out about this change, and mention how responsive the SDE has been in responding to your needs. :-)

PS. I didn’t really check the Farmer’s Almanac, but I think I will next time.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Grant Reviewers Needed

As you are likely aware, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was recently released by the CSDE, called 21st Century Learning Environments. Many of you may even be totally engrossed in writing a proposal as I type this post! Proposals are due February 11, 2010.

Unfortunately, those proposals don't just score themselves, you know! So, I need to assemble a group of stellar educators willing to give their time and expertise to review proposals. Anyone is eligible to be a reviewer - even if you have been involved in writing a proposal - as long as you meet the following qualifications:

• are knowledgeable about ed tech (not necessarily in an ed tech job though),

• are a “smart” educator, who knows what “good” instructional techniques and principles are, and understands teaching and learning deeply.

• are available on March 10 to get together with other reviewers and decide final scores.

• believe that you can objectively review a proposal and score it against a set of specific measures.

• are willing to give your time and expertise for the good of the educational technology cause. :-)

If you've never been a reader before, this is our process: On or around February 19, each reviewer will receive a packet containing between 4-6 proposals to review and score, according to the rubric included in the RFP. Then, on March 10, all reviewers will meet at CREC in Hartford, along with the proposals they reviewed and their score sheets/comments. Reviewers will sit at tables with 4-5 other reviewers who have reviewed the same proposals and debate the merits of each proposal, discussing why each reviewer scored the various sections as he/she did, and together arriving at a collective score for each of the sections of the rubric. It will likely take approximately 45 minutes to thoroughly discuss and review each proposal as a reviewing team, so reviewers should expect to spend the entire day at CREC. Yummy refreshments and lunch will be served.

I will add that nearly everyone who has been a reviewer in the past has expressed that the experience was extremely valuable professionally.

FYI - reviewers will be asked to review proposals from outside their geographical areas, so that conflicts of interest can be avoided.

Doesn't all of this sound fun? If you are interested (or know a colleague who might be) and meet the qualifications described above, send me an email ( with your name, email address, snail mail address (to send proposals for review), the name of the school district in which you work (if you work in a district) and the name of the RESC in which that district is located. If you have any connections to other districts with which you might have a conflict of interest, include that information too. And - let me know if you've never reviewed grants before, so that I can prepare hazing and initiation rituals be sure to group new people with more experienced grant readers when I form the reader teams.

Thank you for your consideration to become a reviewer!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

RFP Posted for 21st Century Learning Environments


The competitive Title IID RFP for 21st Century Learning Environments has been released!  You can download a copy for yourself here

(Even if you aren't from one of those districts that are eligible to apply, I suggest you take a look - perhaps it will provide ideas for you to share with your school and district leadership.) 

The deadline for submitting proposals is February 11, 2010. Good luck! 

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Update: Title IID, Race to the Top

Title IID:
     Competitive Funds: It looks like the first RFP for competitive Title IID ARRA funds will be issued later this week (I’ll post a notice and link when available). The RFP is entitled “21st Century Learning Environments”.  SAVE THE DATE:  Bidder's Conference- January 21, 3:30-5:00 at ACES.
     Entitlement Funds 2009-10: Applications for entitlement funds were due December 31, 2009, and are currently being processed. LEAs with approved applications can expect to have access to their funds through the online prepayment grant system within the next 2-3 weeks. (Your application is approved as it was submitted unless your district received - or receives by the end of the week - a request for edits or additional information.)
     Entitlement Funds 2010-11: I do not expect that there will be any entitlement funds available through the Title IID program in the 2010-11 school year. Please plan your budgets accordingly.
Race To the Top:
     As you are probably aware, the Department is busily finalizing the state’s Race to the Top application. Connecticut is eligible to receive up to $175 million from this federal grant program, with the majority of those funds going directly to districts. Commissioner McQuillan has included significant funds for technology integration and professional development as part of the application – so please encourage your districts to sign on and participate in our application.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Discovery Science - January 9th at the Connecticut Science Center

For those of you using Discovery Science, you might be interested in attending SCIcon 2010, a one-day conference that explores effective strategies for transforming science classes through the meaningful and effective integration of digital media content.

Participants in the conference will have the opportunity to interact with colleagues from throughout the state in real-time and connect with educators from around the world virtually.

Registration is FREE and includes entrance to the museum for the day (how cool is that?) and lunch (parking is $7). If you can't make it to the science center, you can also participate online. For more information and to register, check out the online flyer.