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

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
For questions or more information, contact Susan Van Gelder,
Live Events Committee, at 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