Saturday, September 29, 2007

Change of Command Ceremony

This morning, I was invited to attend a Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, by my friend Teresa. Little did I know....
Teresa Gallagher is now a colonel in the Army National Guard. She is now the first woman in command of a brigade of this size. I learned this from my neighbor, who watched the ceremony on tv!
She is rated in four kinds of helicoptors. I just know she flies an Apache and the learners at SSVC think that is cool! She is now the Assistant Superintendent at SSVC. I just know she started as a Physics teacher. Her son and Chester are friends. Chester is my friend's son. It is a small world.
Teresa is a humble person. Her other son attends Georgia Tech. Today at the reception following her ceremony, she was the last one to eat. I wish I were more like my friend.
There is probably a connection here with the important skills to facilitate for 21st century learners. Instilling excellence while maintaining a humble attitude would be a possible focus. I am still thinking of how humble my friend is.....
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Friday, September 28, 2007

k12Online!



















Come one, come all to the k12Online conference



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Network of Collective Knowledge

Last night on 'It's Elementary', we had guest John Pederson on the show. We were talking about social networking. The topic reminded me that knowledge is distributed. In the 'real-world', those who can communicate, collaborate, and connect with their networks to use knowledge will outrank those who only use that knowledge within their heads.
James Paul Gee (2003) echoes this when he refers to knowledge as distributed. He says

...thinking and reasoning are inherently social...(p. 184)

Knowledge inside one's head is not as useful as that knowledge found in other people, their writings, their tools, their friends or acquaintances. Or the way they communicate, collaborate, or connect with other people.
Yet in education, we test students' head knowledge not the ways in which they are able to communicate. We test students in isolation of each other not in how they collaborate. We value only what they know themselves, not how they are able to connect with their networks to find the knowledge they seek.
I don't give silent proctored tests in my room. I am more interested in assessing ability continuously and through the ways learners solve problems. This is what they will need to do in the 'real world'. I need to be teaching all learners to be successful in the real world.
References:
Gee, J.P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

wiziq !

Just enjoyed a free Elluminate meeting like application called wiziq set up by Jeff Utecht. Included in the meeting were (& I'm sure I'll miss someone) New Zealand, Australia, China, Thailand, USA - all impromptu and gathered via Jeff's twitter. That is the power of the twitterverse, as Jeff calls it. David Warlick, Will Richardson, Kim Cofino, Graham Wegner, Chrissy Hellyer, Allanah King, Jeff Utecht, Susan Sedro, & oh some others whose names escape me, where in the meeting. It was only announced via twitter and I only saw two tweets of his. Five continents collaborating via a new free tool. That is amazing as David pointed out.
The k12 applications for this tool seem to me to be far more than Flashmeeting, also a free meeting tool. That tool would seem to be best for college and beyond. Flashmeeting requests, but does not require a webcam. I think that alone will discourage those outside the echo chamber.
Wiziq can go either way and just now Jeff set up the meeting without webcams. I think that will make it more inclusive. The teacher can grab control of the audio and the whiteboard at the same time. That will be a good feature for safety conscious k12 educators. There is no interrupt audio button as in Flashmeeting, which makes wiziq more user friendly. Just ask Paul what happens during a conference when one pushes the broadcast button!
The potential of this tool is greater than my coffee deprived mind can fathom right now. Thank you again to all who participated!!
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cafeteria Education

Our middle schools and high schools in the United States offer a wide selection of course offerings to learners to meet graduation requirements. While this differs from school to school, one thing is constant. We offer several courses as if they were choices in a cafeteria. Is this the future we seek?
We have strayed from our purpose. While meeting individual needs is important, future schools are envisioned differently. In 1995, I studied future schools and found that a return to one room assignments was popular. This system allowed for differentiation through online courses, mini f2f courses in the school building, & independent study in the base room. Base room teachers were facilitators, advisors, cheerleaders, rather than industrial age teachers. Students worked on fulfilling contracts that they had devised. Real-world meet k12!
I wish we were there now. We have a long uphill journey before us here in the United States. One of the first priorities is bringing all educators into the echo chamber. Who did you bring this week?
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Literacies

Learners labeled with difficulties in reading often listen and comprehend at higher levels than those at which they read. Reading text aloud has long been a way to get around those difficulties. Web 2.0 tools can assist by plugging in to those higher listening and comprehending levels. Marilyn Jager Adams is a proponent of such text based voice programs to augment reading literacies.
Web 2.0 includes more ideas. Podcasting, movie maker programs, Voicethreads, audio bubbleshares, & many more I have no doubt forgotten. Educators can use tools like these to tap into alternate intelligences. Recently named digital natives often are easier to engage using these tools. Supporting the use of these Web 2.0 tools would thus behoove all k12 educators as well as higher education educators.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

WYSIWYG

Are you a WYSIWYG person? Are you hiding behind your reputation? Are you a real person that is authentic in every situation? The learners in your classrooms will quickly see through any facades that you attempt to put up - so why bother? They learn much by your example, even you don't believe they learn anything.
Lack of authenticity is internal. It is an attitude that reveals itself in external facades. Those facades could be status, diplomas, licenses, reputation, any number of things hidden behind. Facades are external, not who we are, & are threatening.
We cannot value status and reputation over authenticity. I certainly pray I never do. I am who I am - what you see (albeit virtually) is what you get. I call it like is. Sorry, that is who I am.
Thank you to Bill Wyand for these thoughts.
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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The connections make the meanings

Connections make powerful meanings in our lives. Our relationships are solidified through connections. As those attendees at the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai have heard, the web 2.0 tools can reinforce those connections and make our lives meaningful.
Sheryl says something really powerful - we can't give away what we don't own. If we don't learn how to use the tools to increase our connections and give our lives meaning, then we cannot facilitate learners in making meaning through connections in their own lives.
As Wes says, these tools are the best I have found to give learners meaning through communication, collaboration, connections...
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Prepare yourself...

Our cultural models are shifting, changing, realigning. The status quo no longer satisfies, it no longer educates learners for tomorrow. The industrial age is over and although our schools still reflect that successful empire, they must change to survive. We are now not even in the digital world, we are beyond it. It came and went while we in education were sleeping.
We are now in the conceptual age. Our cultural models are changing to reflect this new emphasis. Those things to be emphasized in education include communication, collaboration, creativity. Stretching learners to reach new heights of Bloom's taxonomy and not being satisfied with only rote memorization is the shift towards the future.
I understand that there are educators who like closing the door and being 'king' of the classroom. I understand there are educators who look forward to retirements and look forward to always doing the same thing year after year, I understand. Unfortunately that is just not sufficient. To really prepare today's learners for tomorrow's world, our cultural models must change. We must do it now.
Learners need to own their learning. They need to direct their own educational paths. We must now only be willing, but we must lead the way and fast! How do we begin, the job is too vast. It is, that is the point. All stakeholders need to communicate, collaborate, and create the learning.
This thoughts are echoed with far more eloquence at the Learning 2.0 conference in Shanghai - listen here
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Friday, September 14, 2007

Building Relationships - the web 2.0 way

This afternoon my 5th graders were blogging with New York. The 7th graders were blogging with Australia. Sixth graders got excited about blogging with New Zealand. We were building relationships through the use of technology.
This evening, I will be participating in a ladies group in Second Life. We will be building relationships through the use of technology. None of us will be in the same locale in real life, but we will be in the same room in Second Life. This is both totally incredible and yet totally normal for web 2.0 users.
The whole point of our increasingly wrinkled world is that as those wrinkles scrunch up further we touch more and more points. The world is not flat at all, but wrinkled. Where those wrinkles touch, there is opportunity for us to exploit the relationships with web 2.0 tools.
If the use of those tools gets kids as excited as I saw this afternoon, then I will gladly use them in my classrooms. We all need to remember that on the other side of every connection are real people with real feelings. Online safety and netiquette are imperatives that cannot be ignored.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Empowering Relationships

We are created for relationship. There are several relationships in our lives. Those with our Creator, those with our spouses, children, & extended family, those with our friends, & those with our colleagues. Those relationships are strengthened and deepened through time we spend developing them.
Web 2.0 tools can be used to intensify the relationships in our lives. VOIP is a cheap way to keep in touch using audio. Videoconferencing is a free way to reinforce ties between learners - I like to use it to not only motivate learners but to give them connections they can strengthen through collaborations. Learners don't always realise people on the internet are just that - people. If we give a face to people with whom they work, it's easier to understand the all people should be shown God's love.
Blogging and commenting on blogs helps to cement our relationships. Discussions happen between people, not robots. Our understandings of who we are as well as who the others are is developed through blogging. Our thinking is deepened, further connected, challenged, & maybe re-aligned through blogging.
Podcasting is another web 2.0 that solidifies relationships. I did some podcasting with primary students today. They were reading their books and will encourage those people important to them to listen this evening. Listening to these voices will bring families closer.
I use web 2.0 tools to reinforce those things that are already important to our lives. Relationship is one of those things. Education by developing effective habits of mind is another. What I do, teaching technology as a seperate class, needs to disappear. Technology, like reading, needs to be an integral part of what we all do. While this view may ultimately put me out of a job, it is the right thing to do for our learners. If I'm not willing to lose my job, then I am not going to be able to do my job.
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The Learning never stops

We have never arrived, our studies are never sufficient, the learning never stops. Many colleagues act this way-as if they have arrived at a destination because they have obtained a degree and a job. But we are never really done-not if we are lifelong learners.
I learned yesterday things about videocameras that I am quite comfortable not knowing and will likely forget quickly. I needed the information, I sought it out, I knew where to look. These are research skills that educational leaders need to develop in learners. They are the lifelong learners of tomorrow. If they ever feel they have arrived then we have failed.
Learners who can identify missing information, who know where to look for that information, & evaluate the information they find will be more valuable to employers than those who are not lifelong learners. But more than on an economic level, those learners who fully develop the ability to think, or this habit of mind, will be effective citizens in a democracy, We have a democracy in this country founded by such thinkers.
As we celebrate Constitution Week, let us review our objectives and question whether our learners are developing effective habits of mind.
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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Designing Learning Environments

Learning happens within a context for both the facilitator and the learner. Learning is most effective when those contexts align. For example, if the leader and the learner both expect a lecture, the learner will learn more. If the learners expect to be filled with knowledge by leaders, and leaders expect learners to construct their own knowledge there will be a barrier preventing a flow of knowledge. I have discussed with each of my ten classes that I do not fill them with knowledge, that they are not empty vessels, they must develop digital skills with some effort on their part. They are being prepared to enter a global conversation, to compete with graduates in other nations, and to comprehend complex software.

Learners often drag into carefully planned environments their own baggage. This baggage affects their ability to learn despite best laid plans. Knowledge does not exist within a vacuum, but all knowledge is contextual. Setting the stage, activating prior knowledge, using anticipatory sets is vital to helping learners connect new information to knowledge already within their brains. Sticky nodes are great places to stick new knowledge. There will always be excess baggage which learning environment developers need to deal.

Teachers are more co-learners, mentors, leaders. A familiar metaphor is leaders most effective when they are guides on the side instead of the sage on the stage. Learners are the focus of the learning environment and are in the center of the learning experience. Leaders motivate the team effort, lead a crowd, point the way. Leaders are taking on a new role as educational paradigms shift.

Focusing on following my own advice is a great first step for me. As I attempt to motivate each class to expect something different from me than the sage, I am mostly successful. It would appear that I have failed with those who carry the most baggage into the learning environment. The contexts are not aligning. It is interesting that I have been most successful with the class of 2012 and below, not with those upper classes. Is anyone else experiencing this?

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

K12Online2007 Conference

The teasers are public! There are four really great ones at the K12Online "Playing with Boundaries"Conference Blog


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Bookmark Meme

Yes, I've been tagged, even though directions to comment on my blog were not followed....and I struggle to teach following directions in k12....sigh...
Here are the rules:
1) Once you've been tagged, link your most recent bookmarked pages back to your blog
2) Name the tag that you have used so others can access the links easily in a blog post
3) At the end of your post, tag 6 people and list their names, linking to them.
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged.
So what have I bookmarked on del.icio.us lately?
Piknik
Audival
Brighton Primary School
Gates' Web 2.0 Intro TiddlyWiki
Deep Web Resources
These are not chronological, but the more interesting recent ones.
I tag (& if you have been tagged, please pass the tag along)
Simon
Cyndi Danner-Kuhn
Kevin
Susan Meech
Ms.Tina
Parisi
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What's in your database?

Today I was privileged to be around for Vance Stevens presentation at EUROCALL 2007 which focused on "Mastering Multimedia: Teaching Languages Through Technology". His presentation was at 10:15GMT and this 6:15am for me and even Jose from CA was there (3:15am for him!)
We talked about the 'deep web' which many have covered better than I ever could. In brief, it is that information found online which is not picked up by searches done in Google or Yahoo or any myriad of search engines we all now use. The deep web content is found in databases. Our school has a paid subscription, which will expire this year, to ProQuest's SiRs Researcher and Discoverer. I believe some schools also use EBSCO, another paid database.
The lucky learners in the school district where my dad & step-mom lived get these databases Joyce Valenza works there!
A pre-internet equivalent would have been peer-reviewed journals. Remember searching through drawers of microfiche and those uncooperative readers? No more! Now it is available online. I continue to search for free databases to which I can redirect my school's learners when our SIRs subscription ends...
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Thursday, September 6, 2007

It's Elementary

Please join us Monday night at 23:00GMT for a live, interactive webcast about moodles in elementary education. Our guest is James Gates. Due to a new server we are directing everyone to join the chat via Worldbridges
Type your name and no password is required. Once you enter the chat room, ask there for sound or listen via the Listen
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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Who is your library?

Your library is immediate, deep, on-call 24/7, interactive, & full of knowledge. Your new library is every bit what a traditional library ever was - only better!
Your library is your network. Your library can include any Ning group, Twitter, Skype, IMs (I use Meebo) & databases. Now your library includes not only books and written materials, but podcasts, user-created wikis (have you seen those created by students in the Horizon Project?), photo sharing sites, RSS aggregators, videos & virtual worlds.
You used to go to the library for an afternoon of research. Now you can access your library from home at any time of the day or night.
The function of a public library seems to remain - to provide free information and distribute materials to patrons. What has changed is the method of query and delivery. Now instead of only Dewey or the Library of Congress systems, there are sites like del.icio.us & technorati. We can access peer reviewed materials at a moment's notice. Free college courses are available online anytime. I'm listening to a Harvard course right now (didn't say I comprehend all of it, just that I am listening).
So how large is your library?
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