Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Educational Transformation







I work in a school that limits kids' access to digital tools. This school community is not ready to give up control to stakeholders. They do not recognise that the power has already been taken, the coup has happened, and the next generation is pretty much laughing.
In the next year, do I sense a major paradigm shift in educational policy? Sadly, no. But there will continue to be those of us who are disruptive to the educational status quo, who recognise that if we are not willing to lose our job, we're not going to be able to do our job, those who run so far ahead that we don't see anyone running with us.
One of two things could happen in our futures, maybe both. I don't think we will be the minority for very much longer. I think the USA educational system as we know it will collapse. The better we can educate today's k20 students using all tools at our disposal, the better. Ultimately, none of this is really about the tools, though they are nice. It is about the learning.
As I noted on Twitter earlier this afternoon, we as educators must seek to inspire a global mindset in the next generations. This means they must be able to communicate, connect & collaborate on global scale with other learners, not just chronological peers in the same room.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Global Championships of the Eracism Debates

I had the privilege today of being present while history was being made. The Final Debates of the Eracism project took place today. I was judging this Lincoln-Douglas style debate between two middle school teams.
What made this debate stand out was where it took place. We were in an auditorium with debate tables, judges' chairs, a podium, and cameras. But this auditorium was in a virtual world similar to Second Life.
This K12Online Conference 2009 presentation was filmed live inside a virtual world. Talk about trail blazing! I am in awe that there were not an enormous amount of technical glitches, but it went smoothly. The presentation, Inside the Global Collaborative Debate: Eracism will go live tomorrow morning at 7:00am in eastern USA. The link will be hot at --> Time Where You Are. The hot link will be found at the K12Online Conference 2009 Blog. Be sure to watch it and tell all your friends. I sadly, won't get to watch it until later tomorrow due to my teaching schedule. But all the K12Online Conference presentations are archived on the blog and can be viewed anytime at all! That is what is so wonderful about this asynchronous conference.
Congratulations to the winning team, you know who you are. The rest of you will have to watch to find out who won....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Learn our lessons well...

This image was part of a VoiceThread sent to the 1st grade class by the 1st grade class at Shanghai American School. You can see both VoiceThreads here --> Clever Learners
I was reading an article that Bob Compton, author of Two Million Minutes, wrote during his recent visit to Korea. In this article, which you can read here --> Visit to Korea,
he says Korea has learned the lesson that when China takes away low-value work, it is best to let it go. It is best to shift education, research, and resources so that more value is added to the processes of design, innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. (Compton, 2009)
Are you getting this America? If someone else on the globe can do it cheaper, they will. So let it go. Shift the educational paradigm. Shift the business paradigm. Shift the research foci. Stop teaching what someone else can and will do cheaper, because they will get the work, not you. Start teaching creativity, innovation, critical thinking. Are you getting this US education? Honestly, the schools to which I have talked recently are getting it. They are not in the mainstream, they are private.
Are you getting this American teachers? Do you lecture and test rote learning? Have you checked RateMyTeachers ?
Are you using project learning? Are you using multi-media? Are you helping learners develop skills in design, invention, and entrepreneurship? Are you teaching to more than one intelligence?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Connect --> Learn

It has often been noted that connections must be made in order for learning to occur. Yesterday at the bridal shower for a friend's daughter, I got to converse with a bridesmaid's mother who was also the 1st grade teacher at the school where I taught. (Listen for strains of "It's a small world afterall....").
She is bilingual. Which got me to thinking, although I do know some German, I would never regard myself as bilingual. What are the connections that happened for her and not for me?
I remember being friends with a family when I was young. They had two lovely girls who were bilingual - German and American. They made connections easily in either language. They would speak in German to me and my stepmother but in American to my dad, often switching languages mid sentence as someone entered or left a room. They made the connections. They learnt with ease.
I see so many language learners in our schools not making those connections with ease. I see so many struggling to pass mandated courses were the language learning was started too late. And I wonder why.
When I visit relatives in Germany, they always want to practice their English. It is British, but quiet understandable (except one friend, but that is another story). In most European countries, foreign languages are begun much earlier. Thus it is easier to make the connections and become bilingual. I consider all my relatives practically bilingual, even that uncle who wouldn't speak English to me at all ( I think he knew exactly what he was doing too!).
If we are to continue to be a super power, wouldn't it behoove us to do something about this language thing ASAP? Of course, the tech tools that could help.......

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Photo courtesy of miss blackbutterfly covered under an Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/23961199@N05/3082335820

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fireside Chat with Joyce and Konrad: December 12th, 6:30 pm GMT

This Saturday there will be a live Fireside Chat with Joyce Valenza and Konrad Glogowski, the keynoters for week 1 of the k12Online Conference 2009. The live chat will take place at EdTechTalk --> http://edtechtalk.com/live where participants can hear the keynoters and chat in the chatroom. The Fireside Chat is scheduled at 6:30pmGMT --> Time Where You Are.
Below is a downloadable flyer about this week's Fireside Chat. Feel free to disseminate.
Live Event 12-12

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Tools of the Trade

These are some of the tools of the teaching trade. Those 19th century tools with which I was equipped are missing (blackboards, overheads, chalkholders, pencils, etc.) Colleges of Education that do not prepare educators with these tools are doing them a disservice! I recently needed to interact with a group of preservice and inservice educators. The preservice educators had none of the tools except email, which is antiquated at best. I asked for Skype id's in order to form a group backchannel, out of sight of the students involved. As many will note, Skype is free. The preservice educators said they didn't have and would not download this free tool. That attitude is intolerable! Not because it put me out in any way, but because A) all preservice teachers should already have it and B) an unwilling to learn attitude is not conducive to great teaching. And it is great teachers we so desperately need.
Our kids need, not just deserve, but need a world-class education. If we teachers (all educators, both preservice and inservice) are not providing it we are wasting taxpayer dollars and flirting with national disaster. It is time to get serious people.
I was surprised and taken aback by the attitudes of these preservice teachers at a prestigious college of education. These are not freshman, but those who will be entering the field in the next couple of years. We better start doing something about this and quick!
If you are a professor of education at any college or university, please, please, please prepare your teachers for THEIR future teaching responsibilities. Require preservice teachers to have and to use the tools of the trade. If you don't know how, find someone on Twitter or the Classroom2.0 ning who does. If you don't know what these are - find out or retire. I do mean it. This is not the time to lolly gag and mince words. As a very wise person once said,

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance

America cannot afford to pay this price.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

K12 Online Conference 2009 - Around the World with Skype – Alrededor del Mundo con Skype





Silvia Tolisano's presentation, Around the World with Skype or Alrededor del Mundo con Skype will go live on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 12:00:00GMT -->Time Where You Are

Presentations for years 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 are on the k12Online blog. Check out the conference schedule --> Here.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

K12 Online Conference 2009

The K12Online Conference 2009 is about to begin! So far this year we have enjoyed 3 LAN parties leading up to the main conference. The LAN parties featured past presenters, their presentations, and chat room hullabaloo. While this was all connecting and learning, the main event really gets me dancing!
The preconference keynote goes live on Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:00:00GMT --> Time Where You Are. This doesn't mean you have to be there the moment it goes live (although a bunch of us may be). The discussion of the preconference takes place on Friday December 4, 2009 from 1 - 2:30 am GMT --> Time Where You Are. That live event will take place at EdTechTalk with Kim Cofino live discussing the themes of her keynote with those participants in the chatroom. Of course, you may want to be there live, but if live intervenes, there will be a recording for later.
Below is a conference flyer for you to print and disseminate at your school, church, workplace. The conference is totally free. One only needs the internet, a computer, and a way to listen. Many libraries where I live provide all of these to their patrons. Come join us at the k12Online Conference this year and begin to bridge the divide...k12online09flyer-GMT

Thursday, November 26, 2009

EduBlog Awards 2009

The EduBlog Awards celebrate achievements of bloggers, twitterers, podcasters, video makers, online communities, & wikis.

I nominate:
Best individual blog Tom Woodward Bionic Teaching http://bionicteaching.com/
Best individual tweeter Joe Evans @joevans
Best group blog School Library Journal
http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/
Best new blog Neil Stephenson Thinking in Mind
http://thinkinginmind.blogspot.com/
Best class blog Room 231
http://inside.isb.ac.th/rm231/
Best librarian / library blog Springfield Township HS Virtual Library
http://www.sdst.org/shs/library/ ; Pat Pledger ReadPlus http://www.readplus.com.au/index.php
Best elearning / corporate education blog Innosight http://www.innosight.com/index.html ; The Berkman Center http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/
Best educational use of audio Gator Radio Experience
http://gatorradio.blogspot.com/
Best educational wiki EduWiki.us
http://eduwikius.wikispaces.com/
Best educational use of a social networking service Edmodo
http://www.edmodo.com/
Lifetime achievement - no one has been blogging their entire lifetime.

And I add Best educational game Lure of the Labyrinth http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/www/
Best call to civic action World Food Programme http://www.wfp.org/1billion
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Does it stay on FB?

Remember the saying some cruise lines like to tell their guests - what happens on the ship stays on the ship? Were it so on FaceBook. But when you inadvertently say things on FaceBook, remember your grandmother, your employer, your teacher, and your principal may all be reading what you said about them.
I recently was asked to talk someone's parents into allowing their child on FB. I spent the time explaining to her why we should NOT be on FB. One of my biggest reasons (and I teach in a Christian school) is that it damages our witness. There are far more people in the world that are convinced FB is a bad thing than those who are convinced it is a good thing.
Other persuasive reasons found me today in my aggregator. Leigh Zeitz reports that research by Aryn Karpinski and Adam Duberstein compared the grades of students who use FB to those not using FB. They surveyed 219 students from Ohio State University, finding that FB users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5. However, students in the study who didn't use FB had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0. They also found that FB users studied an average of 1 - 5 hours a week but non-users studied between 11 - 15 hours. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association in April of this year. While the study results needs to be replicated on a larger scale, these preliminary results are enough for me. With all, and I mean all, my students on FB, I have no need to damage my reputation.

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:3,
But among you there must not be even a hint of immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
As someone who is looking for fulltime employment, and someone who is employed in the field of education, I think it is an asset NOT to have a FB. How many of those K12 parents will breathe easier knowing their child's teacher is not on FB? Those are the people paying the bills, whether it is private or public education.
I wrote this for you bluenugget.
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Photo courtesy of AJC1 covered under an attribution-noncommercial 2.0 generic creative commons license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/503165914/

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kiva


Whenever I accumulate enough to make a reloan on KIVA, I involve the learners in my classroom. They choose to whom we should loan and IM my the name. I have been doing this since Christmas 2007. Microloans through KIVA go around traditional banks. With the motive of alleviating poverty, KIVA has seen explosive growth. Thus far 596,058 have loaned $103,042,085 in 187 countries.

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Kiva.org Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

This holiday season, consider giving a KIVA loan in lieu of a trinket. Spend your hard earned money where it can do the most good! Investigate KIVA today!!
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why surf streams of learning?

I'm reading an interview with Motoko Akiba, coauthor of recent study comparing teachers in Australia, Japan, and the United States. The book, Improving Teacher Quality: The U.S. Teaching Force in Global Context, was written as a result. Akiba asserts in the interview that in order to improve USA education, we need to focus on:
  1. Improving teacher quality;
  2. Developing school community;
  3. Improving school safety.
It seems one way to improve teacher quality is to increase professional development hours. She claims,
U.S. teachers spend 66 hours for professional development per year on average, compared to 76 hours among Australian teachers and 284 hours among Japanese teachers.
On average, how many hours do you clock? Is that number representative of your quality, your availability, or the current economic outlook in the USA today? Let's see, what have I done:
  1. Educon 2009 - probably about 12 hours
  2. PETE-C 2009 - 12 hours
  3. VWBPE - 20 hours
  4. FETC - probably 12 hours
  5. Numerous other live streams flowing out of conferences over summer 2009
  6. ACSI development hours - 6 hours
  7. blendedschools online conference - 6 hours
  8. Graduate course - 40 hours
Total = somewhere over 100 hours
I work in a school with a strong sense of community, dismal safety/security, and no professional development. We have required inservice hours, but when one is forced to attend, what is one really getting?
So where do you fall on the hour timeline of professional development?

Akiba, M. & LeTendre, G. (2009). Improving Teacher Quality: The U.S. teaching force in global context. New York: Teachers College Press.
Photo courtesy of Michael Dawes covered under an Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8263143@N07/2552735149

Sunday, November 8, 2009

K12Online 2009 Conference 3rd LAN Party

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Please join us on November 18, 2009 at 22:30GMT/3:30pmPST/
4:30pmMST/5:30pmCST/6:30pmEST
for a live event of the 2009 K12Online Conference

On November 18, the K12Online Conference is hosting a LAN party from 6:30PM to 8:30PM EST. We invite everyone to gather at the LAN party site with colleagues in order to view two past conference presentations and then engage in lively discussions in the EdTechTalk chatroom. The following presenters will be in attendance.

6:30 – 7:15 Second Life: K-20 Educators Exploring Virtual Worlds – Panel
Kevin Jarrett and Sylvia Martinez
Kevin is a K-4 Technology Facilitator at Northfield Community School in Northfield, NJ. He works closely with classroom teachers on engaging projects across the curriculum. Kevin also teaches online at Walden University’s Graduate School of Education. He has been exploring Second Life since March 2007 thanks to a $10,000 Faculty Excellence grant and expects to publish his findings in the fall.


Sylvia Martinez is president of Generation YES, working to empower students in K-12 schools through digital technology. Sylvia has designed educational games, curriculum, and online experiences for teachers and students. Sylvia speaks and writes on subjects such as the use of technology, simulations and games to enhance educational opportunities and enable youth voice.

6:45 – 7:30 Release the Hounds

Chris Harbeck

Chris Harbeck teaches grade 8 math to approximately 140 students each year. He has been teaching middle school students for over a decade and is in his third year of using 2.0 applications and “21st Century Learning” in his classroom. Despite the fact (or more realistically because of the fact) that math is one of those subjects students often reflect back on with distaste, fear or indifference, Chris has moved from teaching both social studies and math to the one subject. He has been involved in development of the middle years math curriculum at the divisional and provincial level. With his strong focus on conceptual understanding, Chris has discovered that using 2.0 tools and applications make math fun and interesting. An encouraging trend has emerged: students do not run away and saying “I hate math”; they love to do assignments and have started to see the beauty in math.

The EdTechTalk community will host this event at http://www.edtechtalk.com/live.
For questions or more information, contact Susan Van Gelder, Live Events Committee, at susanvg@mac.com or on Twitter at @k12online.


Monday, November 2, 2009

An Outstanding Educator

The two most important qualities that an educator can possess are a willingness to patiently teach and a willingness to patiently learn. Both of these qualities imply a knowledge of the best possible practices, a constant yearning to identify these practices, and the ability to take risks by applying these practices to one's craft of teaching. Inherent in these qualities is the ability to communicate through listening, speaking, reading, and writing well. Indeed, these are the very qualities that teachers seek to foster in their students, and so it must follow that outstanding teachers are excellent role-models.

In order to patiently teach, educators must be aware of the several different modalities through which students learn. Educators must be able to teach concepts and generalizations through these modalities, identify when this is necessary, and be willing to do so. Educators must be willing to teach rather than constantly test, realizing that children will make errors and that they can learn much from errors. Such teachers converse with their students about what they are learning. They enjoy reading and writing with their students daily. Patient educators also need to consider wait time, targeted verbal reinforcements, and hands-on instructional techniques.

In order to patiently learn, educators must hone their ability to observe, realizing how rich a store of information is seen in each student. Remarkable educators meekly learn all they can from students. They constantly seek new information about their craft, being life-long learners who are self-propelled in a quest to become better at what they do. These teachers take university classes, attend workshops, collaborate with colleagues, and always question whether there isn't a better way.

An outstanding educator possesses the qualities outlined. I hold these ideals and hope to become an educator displaying these qualities.

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Photo courtesy of muha covered under a Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license and available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/36863537@N00/1061897539

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flatclassroom09-3 - Sounding Boards

Every fall a global project takes place led by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. This year over 220 students from 5 countries will research trends in information technology and globalization, write a collaborative research report on a wiki, and produce digital videos about their topics. Sound impressive? Well it is! These students are not graduate level university students. They are in high school.

As part of this project, there is a peer reviewing process that takes place later this month. These Sounding Boards are simply a 1 -> 2 -> 3 review done by middle school students. I have my 7th graders do this. My students think they are reviewing college student work. When I show them pictures of the students involved, they are often incredulous. The global project has won ISTE's Online Learning Award (2007) and is included in Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat.

Each team produces 5 videos to go with the research report. The wikis and the videos need you to peer review. Each Sounding Board classroom only has to review one team wiki. Sign up on the Flatclassroom page (scroll down) or if you prefer contact me and I will sign you up. I have found my kids love watching the videos. I like to make a wikisite for my classroom and have them do the 1 -> 2 -> 3 reviews that Kim Cofino recommends.

So come volunteer! Let's overwhelm the project with our middle school enthusiasm! Navigate to the FlatClassroom09-3 Sounding Boards page and read over the description. Sign up or contact me to do it. Thanks in advance!!



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Being Critically Literate!


I'm reading Critical Literacy: Enhancing Students' Comprehension of Text by Maureen McLaughlin and Glenn DeVoogd. It tells me critical literacy is a way of thinking about text. Since I consider literacy to be about of comprehending and creating in a medium, I would extend their meaning of critical literacy to be a way of thinking about everything. I often tell the learnrs in my room to question everything. Many are surprised when one of them questions me and is praised! It is simple math, really. There are 19 of them and 1 of me. Now where is the brain power? Yeah, exactly.

One of the techniques for enhancing critical literacy is called "Problem Posing". Using this method, the learning leader poses questions after learners have experienced the medium. These questions include
  • Who is named in the medium? Who is missing?
  • Which viewpoint is represented? Which viewpoint is ignored?
  • What does the author intend by the piece? What does the author want you to think?
  • What are the alternative views?
  • How could this piece promote freedom from bias?
Using just this one strategy with fiction mediums and nonfiction mediums, we could encourage learners at all levels to think critically. Being able to think critically is the hallmark of freedmen/women. It is sad when our students are afraid to question teachers/professors and then grow into adults afraid to question all authority figures.
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Photo courtesy of tibcris covered under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8381313@N08/2981823034

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Please join us on October 20, 2009 at 22:00GMT/3:00pmPDT/4:00pmMDT/5:00pmCDT/6:00pmEDT
for a live event of the 2009
K12Online Conference

On October 20, the K12Online Conference is hosting a LAN party from 6:00PM to 8:00PM EDT. We invite everyone to gather at the LAN party site with colleagues in order to view two past conference presentations and then engage in lively discussions in our chatroom. The presenters will be in attendance.

6:00 – 6:45 Travel Through Space and Time
Silvia Tolisano
Born in Germany, raised in Argentina and living in the USA, Silvia graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish & International Studies and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Currently teaching at a private elementary school, she serves as the Instructional Technology Facilitator and Webmaster. Having lived on three continents and traveled extensively, she is well aware of the importance of instilling global awareness & cultural sensitivities in all her students.

6:45 – 7:30 How Can I Become Part of this ReadWriteWeb Revolution? Alice Barr, Cheryl Oakes, Bob Sprankle
Alice Barr has lived, taught and traveled on five continents. She now lives in Maine where she is the high school Instructional Technology Integrator in a 1:1 laptop environment. Alice also teaches in the summer at The University of Southern Maine and provides professional
development sessions during the year. Alice was a Technology Learning Leader with SEED, Spreading Educator to Educator Developments and worked with teachers during the beginnings of MLTI, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.
Cheryl lives and works in Maine and around the world virtually! I get to work with students and teachers in Wells, Maine and in the states of Maine and New Hampshire. I am also lucky enough to be involved with folks from around the world through my online networks of the Webheads, Worldbridges, EdTechTalk and Seedlings. Join in any of these conversations. You will flatten your classroom.
Bob Sprankle comes from Wells, ME, USA. He's a Technology Integrator in a K-4 Elementary School, teaching over 500 students technology and skills for the 21st Century and has been integrating technology in a 3/4 Multi-age class for 10 years prior.
The EdTechTalk community will host this event at
http://www.edtechtalk.com/live
For questions or more information, contact Susan Van Gelder,
Live Events Committee, at susanvg@mac.com or on Twitter at @k12online.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Enabling Social Studies with Technology

I visited 1st grade the other day and found them in the national garb of China. They were eating Chinese food. To enhance their study of China, I located a 1st grade classroom and suggested a collaboration centered around a VoiceThread. This platform will enable us to upload pictures and add audio comments. Then the other classroom can add their comments.
I was just reading a post by gsiemens on his elearnspace were he says the role of technology is to enable learning. This is exactly how we are using technology in 1st grade without perhaps realising it. He also mentions that technology enables connections. It is through technology that I found the 1st grade classroom in China and through technology that the kids will be connected.
The main thrust of skills in this century are Connections, Communications, Collaborations. George is, as always, more eloquent in expressing this and what he says here really resonates with me.
How are you using technology to enable learning this week? (To be fair, our VoiceThread project will take at least 3 weeks, since I only see 1st grade once per week during a planning period).

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Photo by Camon Alicante covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/26721262@N04/3830471131

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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Please join us on September 26, 2009
for the first live event of the
2009
K12Online Conference

On September 26, K12Online Conference will host a LAN party from 2:00PM to 5:00PM EDT and encourages everyone to get together with colleagues in order to engage in lively discussions. Past presentations will be shown and you are invited to participate in live conversations about the presentations with the featured presenters. A K12Online Conference overview is scheduled at the EdTechTalk website 30 minutes prior to the LAN party.

mathew2:00 – 2:45 Film School
Mathew Needleman, Apple Distinguished Educator, has been integrating video in the classroom for seven years as a teacher of kindergarten, first, and second grade. Make better classroom movies with simple tips that will help elevate your vodcast to the next level in terms of artistic and technical merit. Learn how to storyboard like a pro, choose shots that support the telling of your story, and capture better lighting and sound.

AlecCouros2:453:30 Open, Social, Connected
Dr. Alec Couros is a professor of educational technology and media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina. This presentation unravels a recent open graduate course offering titled “Open, Connected, Social” that was offered at the University of Regina, Winter 2008. The presentation describes the theories influencing the course, types of open practice, reflections and outcomes, and goes on to describe the emergence of “open teaching”.

Markwagner3:30 4:15 Wiki While You Work (Basic)
A former high school English teacher, Mark Wagner has since served as an educational technology coordinator at Estancia High School, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, and the Orange County Department of Education. His session briefly introduces participants to the Read/Write Web, and to wikis in particular. A live demonstration of wikispaces.org and wikipedia.org will illustrate that…, “If you can use a word processor, you can use a wiki.”

kathycassidy4:15 5:00 We Like Our Blogging Buddies: The Write Stuff With Blogging Mentors
Kathy Cassidy is a grade one teacher at Westmount School in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada. In the winter of 2008, Patrick Lewis’s university class of pre-service teachers were blogging mentors for Kathy’s grade one students. This presentation talks about that collaboration and the results of the research that was conducted about the effect this mentorship had on the students’ writing.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Disability is in the eye of the beholder

Ira Socol wrote a thought provoking post on his blog about disability. I replied, "Interesting. I am disabled when I walk in RL on this globe, but not when I walk, skip, run, dance in SL. I am disabled when I speak offline, but not in written text on a phone or computer. My handwriting in this plane of existence is difficult to produce and read, but my composition is much better. So I am disabled with the world with which I intersect. Such an interesting thought! Thank you!!"

If disability is transactional, then other things could be too. CCK0809 reinforces the idea that learning is social. George Siemens has said that there is learning in connecting. This is transactional learning. How interesting that learning to be disabled has to do with how we connect with others. It is through these connections that others find us unable. We (the disabled) are classified by how we connect. We learn by how we connect.
Many have heard me remark that I enjoy surfing streams of learning. What I mean by that is I enjoy being able to connect with others, to transact with them, to learn in a crowd. I actively seek out live streams, archives, peer-reviewed journal articles, those who wiser than I. I absorb, question, comment, cajole - I connect the dots and hence through these transactions with others I learn.
Technology is just a tool that helps me do so more efficiently. If I tried to do 1/10 of what I accomplish without the use of a computer, it would be laughable! I am disabled with the world with which I intersect. But I am able with online environments and contacts with whom I transact.
Photo courtesy of mikep covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/22987087@N00/32078113

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Did you Know 4.0


Referenced by both Scott and Karl on their blogs, as well as The Economist magazine, this is the latest update of the original video --> which I think is here . There are so many versions that it is difficult to tell.
The impact on the last USA political elections is especially noteworthy.
What do you have in your pocket?

Monday, September 14, 2009

CCK09 !


Another fabulous twelve weeks of learning is about to commence!! The fun started for me when I received my first "The Daily" in my inbox today!!
Throughout this course there will be a chaotic & wonderful amalgamation of people, learning levels, and platforms. This chaos is pulled together through synchronous meetings in Elluminate, RSS feeds, tag searches, and The Daily. The first meeting is this evening, Monday, September 14, 2009 at 7:00pm Winnipeg time which translates to 8:00pm Durfftime (USA EDT) [your time] This synchronous meeting takes place in https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/launch/meeting.jnlp?sid=2008104&password=M.0A68F27C6846C5A75D6F94199C2118
So catch some great learning waves & surf on over....


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Postlearn

Postlearn.com is new kind of education job board which is growing a network of edubloggers to help publicize educational job openings. Postlearn utilizes the individual personal learning network (PLN) to suggest job opportunities and positions to blog readers and social network members on the sites they already use on a daily basis.


In the words of one affiliate "Postlearn is a new an education job board powered by bloggers."

Direct links to the job posting page (and individual jobs themselves) are spread out across the Postlearn affiliate network which combined will contribute about 20,000 page impressions this month. 1/5 of all revenue from paid postings will be shared back to bloggers and affiliates who've posted the badge/widget (which is free to obtain and tracks direct traffic and purchases).

Postlearn is currently inviting all bloggers or social networking administrators to join their affiliate network: http://postlearn.com/signup

Additionally, any organization or individual with an education related job posting can post for free if you email them to Joe@postlearn.com.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Continuing the Conversation

What is the conversation of which we so glibly speak? What exactly is the content, who is speaking, what are the salient points in this conversation?
If you're not "in the conversation" do you know the answers to these questions?
If you belong to Diigo and you go to this page -->http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-09/st_thompson and scroll down, you will see just a glimpse of this so-called 'conversation'. There in several colors are other people comments. These are comments on the composition, not the spelling or capitalization, or things we teachers often see. These are reflective thoughts, generated because something resonated within while reading the text. These are extensions, conversations, thoughts to ponder. This is the conversation of which I speak. This is where I take my middle school students, so why not the adults who surround them?
Literacy as been mistaken for skill in reading and writing in schools. Literacy is communicating and comprehending using a medium. That medium could be dance [I think ballet, but why not other forms of dance as well?], theatre [I think opera, but why not Broadway, offBroadway, and other forms?], art [Sistine chapel here, but that's me...], music [quartets in my book-I'm old fashioned], or literature. The art of composition remains the same just the medium differs.
Opinions, outrages, reactions? Comment them all and enter the conversation anywhere online....

Photo courtesy of eggman covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/91273409@N00/260394731

Saturday, August 1, 2009

K12 Online Conference 2009

The K12 Online Conference is a global conference that will take place in December this year. The dates (as I understand them) are:

The 2009 pre-conference keynote speaker is Kim Cofino, Thailand. Kim’s keynote will be published on Monday, November 30th. The synchronous "fireside chat" will take place on December 5th.

The actual conference is themed "Bridging the Divide".
Week one: December 7 – 11, 2009
Strand A: Getting Started
Strand B: Leading the Change

Week two: December 14 – 18, 2009
Strand A: Week in the Classroom
Strand B: Kicking It Up a Notch

A live event is planned for the Saturday following each week of the conference in partnership with EdTechTalk. These live events are being called LAN parties.

This year the conference plans to have an iTunes link as well as the video and audio links. Previous conferences are available on the site for your perusal.

Please be aware the deadline for proposal submission is August 16, 2009.
You may or may not be aware that even I presented in K12Online one year. As I am fond of saying, if I can do it, then anyone can. So get submitting!

More information is available at K12Online Conference 2009.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Remembering my friend....

I woke up with all intentions of not ruminating over this at all. Didn't work out that way at all.
Last year about this time, Lee Baber lost her battle with cancer. Here is the link to the EdTechTalk Memorial Page --> http://edtechtalk.com/lee_baber
I hear August 19th was her birthday. I wonder if an impromptu webcast would be appropriate?
Usually never at a loss for words, I find myself with no words to describe the grief I still feel.........

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Comprehending


I'm reading the following for a course I am taking,

schools need to be able to provide high-quality instruction in both word-level and comprehension skills in order to meet the diverse needs of students who continue to struggle with reading in late-elementary, middle, and high school
and it occurs to me that this statement appears perfectly okay. But is it? If literacy is communicating and comprehending using a medium, then isn't focusing on just one kind of literacy in schools doing learners a disservice?
While I agree wholeheartedly, and took all but two courses for a reading specialist, I'm thinking beyond just reading. What about those learners who struggle with visual literacy, musical literacy, or movement literacies? Are the schools to focus on just reading literacy to the exclusion of the others?
Are all literacies connected or independent of each other? What have you learned in your travels through life about this topic? Tim Shanahan at literacy learning claims,
Good comprehension instruction should push kids to think more deeply
Why not good comprehension instruction in activities other than reading? When was the last time you pushed kids to think more deeply about a painting, a sculpture, a symphony, a theatrical play, a modern dance (just to name a few in no particular order)
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Photo courtesy of marttj available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/29241010@N00/71654890 covered under Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Powerful Learning

Which is more powerful, a service or a community? This idea came up during the last ETT Community Meeting. A service was defined as a fully funded entity like your landline or your local hospital or even your community college.
A community was defined more like a bunch of people who contribute to each other's learning. A community is an entity with which you can engage, and by engaging, learn.
The difference is both a but murky but at the same time crystal clear. Because specifically ETT was a community, I was comfortable being a part of the community.
A community is capable of powerful learning. I have not found a service, including any school, that is capable of that kind of learning. In any class, forming a community creates the opportunity for powerful learning. That is intriguing.
Every class I teach I take time to foster a sense of community before we dive into learning. Most teachers in K12 probably do this. Some professors I had in higher education have built the class into community. CCK08 built a sense of community and thus it was powerful learning.
I guess the real question for me is how do I seek to build powerful learning communities in every class I lead? Am I building community or not?
The above photo has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic, but ain't he cute? He loved the Shippensburg Fair last night too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

People to Watch

These bloggers are people to watch! They are making an impact within their sphere of influence. I can learn from their example.
Jason Schrage writes the blog Connections at http://oswego98.edublogs.org/ His latest post talks about those connections and how learning is just that. Another George perhaps? I see a big name at the beginning, so I can say, "I knew him when...." Jason is a Middle School Social Studies teacher in upstate New York.

Jessica Johnson of Reflection from a School Principal at http://principalj.blogspot.com/ quotes Marie Clay in her second post. This is a favorite quote I found on her blog, "When a student doesn’t learn the way we teach, we need to teach the way they learn.” I'm unclear to whom this should be attributed, but that most likely is due more to my lack of coffee intake than anything else. Jessica is an elementary principal in rural Wisconsin.

Neil Stephenson of Thinking in Mind at http://thinkinginmind.blogspot.com/ also talks about connections! He refers to connected Canadian History teachers and building an online PLN. He wonders, as I do, how can we bring the disconnected into the conversation? He also writes about a Cigar Box Project, which would make a wonderful conference presentation/session! Neil is a Humanities teacher in Calgary.


Photo courtesy of Breno Peck taken on May 5, 2008 available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/77319680@N00/2604912201 under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Generic 2.0 license