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Archive for June, 2007

So many great conversations took place at NECC both in sessions and in the Bloggers Cafe, there seemed to be a palpable excitement which I contribute to the dramatic rise in blogging over the past year. To have conversations with people through their blogs you feel as though you know them, at NECC this year, many of us who blog or who are avid blog readers had the opportunity to meet face to face those people. It was like meeting old friends who you had not seen in a long time, and all of these connections have come through conversations, social networking at its best.
I am hopeful there will be an educonblogger 2 either next year at the conference or before, I will have to keep my eye on the blogosphere to make sure I can get wherever it may take place. I believe we all help each other move forward in our thinking and in developing strategies for change in each of our situations, I am constantly learning from those whose blogs I read.
Dr. Tim Tyson, principal of Mabry Middle School was the closing keynote speaker. He has been called “the Pied Piper of Educational Technology” by the School Library Journal. He talked of school 1.0 being centered on rules, routines and rituals, always focusing on the right answer. School 2.0 centers on engagment, authentic learning, communities of learners, and the focus is on meaningfulness, connectedness, significance, and contribution. Tim talked asked the question “at what point does a child feel their life is meaningful”? His answer is today, provide opportunities for children to feel as though they can contribute and change the world today. At Mabry Middle School children do that, they are empowered and encouraged through video projects to think about the world, issues everyone struggles with, and to find their voice make themselves heard, to make a difference. He shared samples of the videos his middle school students have produced on such topics and child labor in the chocolate industry, stem cell research, genetically modified foods, just to name a few. The students know they have a global audience, the best of the videos are posted on iTunes, and their school videos have had 4 million downloads, this is authentic learning, students wanting to contribute, the world listening to what they have to say.
Other ideas for students contibuting were discussed in sessions such as Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay’s Flatclassroom Project. Students in Georgia and Bangladesh collaborrated on the flattners inThomas Friedman’s book, through the use of wikis, blogs and videoconferencing. Allowing students to connect to others and discuss opinions, thoughts, all the while meeting standards, communicating making connections, building social networks and communities, all 21st century skills, their work was meaningful. I want develop a sense of meaningfulness in projects offered in my district, I hope to model what others are doing with students.

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NECC 2007 has come to a close, but the conversations will continue I am sure. I know I will be trying to process all the information from the past several days for quite a while and I hope to be able to articulate my thoughts here. As I go back through my notes I will be posting about the conversations in the sessions I attended. I am sorry I missed edubloggercon on Saturday, although I am new to writing in the blogosphere I have been an avid blog reader for the past year. Many of the authors of the blogs I subscribe to were in Atlanta on Saturday and I wish I had had the opportunity to be in their company and share in their conversations. I am passionate about learning and education and I love my job as an instructional technology person in a K-12 school district. I hope as I grow into this space I will be able to contribute to the conversations I read by Will Richardson, David Warlick, David Jakes and Karl Fisch, just to name a few. Right now I am feeling a bit over my head when I read their posts about these past few days, but I want to continue to learn, share my thoughts and discoveries, challenges and successes as I connect through conversations with others around the world. I agree with something Will has mentioned in his presentations, this is an opportunity for me to build a network and community of people to learn from and with, it is an exciting time of life for me.

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I was truly inspired by Karl Fisch, Brian Hatak, Brad Meyer, Anne Smith, and Barbara Stahlhut from Arapahoe High School who did their presentation yesterday on Constructivist Teaching with Technology:Learning with Laptops. They started with a three yearstaff development plan, and a 4 person technology team in their high school. Karl applied for a grant, I don’t know from who, and assembled a 16 person cohort, including the 4 tech person tech team, to pilot the idea of laptops and constructivism. We listened today to how they started, asking for participation, settinga limit to the number who could participate managably in the first year, set out the guidelines through an email, people responded answering questions then they were chosen. I would like to read more on the Arapahoe web site about the project, the basic concept is teachers using blogs, wikis and podcasts to engage their students. They talked about the authentic learning aspect for the kids, how they (teachers) were not all “techie” teachers to begin with and some relied on their students to learn the technology and teach them as they went. They are finishing year two and now have approximately 45 teachers who have gone through either the first or second cohort. They meet every three weeks for three hours during the school day, had other teachers in their building help out covering portions of the time and substitutes which I assume were paid through the grant money for staff development. Anyway their approach was to change the pedagogy within the school starting with this first cohort. Nothing that they have done would be considered high tech, nothing requires a great deal of knowledge of computers, and the focus was not on the technology. laptops in each of two classrooms, buy in with the community through the production of student work that was posted. Next year they are adding two more classrooms with laptops carts.
I don’t know how to get a foothold in the high school where I am, but I would love to be involved in a project such as this. To hear teachers talk of the impact this project has had on their students in terms of modeling, the teachers modeling their own learning in these cohorts and the value that has had for their students to see. They all were so enthusiastic yesterday, it was great to be part of this conversation with them. This was worth the trip!

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NECC Day 1

Today was the first full day of the conference for me and as it has been for the past several years I had several sessions for each of the time slots that I would have liked to attend, so many choices! Not to mention the posters sessions which are outstanding as well. The outstanding session of the day for me was Rock Our World with Carol Anne Maguire and Ann Reardon. This is an international collaboration project which began 5 years ago and has grown to include more classrooms around the world each year. Students use music, digital images, movies and video conferencing to connect and share aspects of their lives and make global connections. The projects seem to encompass groups of students in all age groups and have touched on a variety of subjects.
I also spent some time in the Second Life playground today which was terrific. I had the pleasure of meeting face to face some of the many people I have had very interesting conversations with during the past month. There were stations set up for anyone who was interested to come for information. There were demonstrations of all kinds going on all day and by the number of people stopping at the playgound I would say there was a lot of curiosity about the concept of Second Life. To those who spent their day in the playground answering all the questions, showing your favorite landmarks, creating accounts and changing avatar appearance, just to name a few of the things covered today you did an excellent job.
I look forward to tomorrow and more great opportunities for learning.

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I have been spending quite a bit of time in Second Life the past several weeks and I find it fascinating. Several weeks ago at our last curriculum department meeting a colleague and I did a presentation on Second Life. The purpose of the presentation was to make staff and administrators aware of new technologies that are available, and being used, in different educational settings. This presentation had been proceeded with one on Web2.0 tools and applications for the classroom. I had been aware of SL for some time although had never taken the time to actually see what it was about until we were preparing for our presentation. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Utecht whose blog Thinking Stick I read regularly, along with many others who show up at the ISTE Thursday night socials. I have met so many interesting people I never would have come in contact with in my real life. I am going to NECC in Atlanta and look forward to meeting these same people in person! I have signed up to work in the SL playground on Monday.
I look forward to NECC every year and this is no exception. I am disappointed I will not arrive in time for the EduBloggerCon on Saturday, but my reservations had been made before this day was finalized. I hope to be able to participate through the blog posts which I am sure will be full of great conversations. NECC has done an outstanding job this year of creating tags for all of the sessions, I hope to blog about those I attend and share what I learn, it will be a great week!

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Web 2.0

For the past several months I have spent time talking and introducing Web 2.0 applications to teachers and administrators in my district. I began with only a few Google docs, Pageflakes, Boxnet as a starting point and had the opportunity to find teachers willing to try using them in their classrooms. Students must have the opportunity to access the internet find, edit, and manage digital information. They must be given the tools they need to construct new knowledge from digital resources; still images, video, audio, text, learn to access and evaluate information, join online communities and engage in collaborative networks as part of their education. We all know this is how they interact outside of the school day. It is time to bring these valuable collaborative spaces into the classroom. This summer I will be working with teachers to expose them to the possibilities of collaborative classroom projects using wikis, blogs, podcasting.
Has anyone or is anyone using wikis and blogs in their classrooms? If so would you mind sharing the grade and send a link to your classroom site? I would love to have examples to show this summer during the staff development sessions.

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I attended a two day workshop on Web 2.0 for the classroom, learning what opportunities and online tools are available and how to use them in our learning. We also had conversations centered on School 2.0, what the future of learning will look like, how the two fit together and what value they have in terms of allowing all of us to have a voice. The conference took place in Philadelphia at the Science and Leadership Academy with Will Richardson. The conversations have been valuable to understand who in the educational community are using these tools now, how classrooms are connecting and offering opportunities for students to begin communicating and collaborating with other schools. I have had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful group of people who are taking part in moving their students forward with the use of Web 2.0 tools and also looking at the future of our schools, how kids learn and how we teach. The blogs I have been reading stimulate very thought provoking conversations about our students, our schools, and how to best prepare our children for positions in the world we can only imagine. One of the things Will spoke of was the power of blogging, giving each of us a voice in the world, this is my attempt at finding my voice. I hope to use this space to share ideas, thoughts, successes and challenges and to expand my learning day in and day out.

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