Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keeping up with the information flow

I only have about 15 blogs on my bloglines account and of those I probably only read 6 or seven almost every day. Today I was reading Remote Access, one of my regular reads and as always I found myself both encouraged and challenged. Clarence writes aMini-Manifesto for the Web 2.0 Classroom which I think I want to adopt as a kind of mission statement. In the manifesto one thing he says….

“The Gatekeepers are Gone
Giving kids textbooks that are ten years out of date is not only wrong, but it is bordering on negligent. Students can access information online that is racist, hurtful, or perfectly false. They also have the opportunity to post information online and gain an international audience. As one of the grade seven girls in my class told me last year, “you don’t have to be a rich old guy from New York anymore.”

I think he is right on the point but it also raises an issue that has been bothering me. Many people are writing in one form or another that we need to teach the kids to deal with large quantities of information. I agree that this is an essential literacy skill however I am at a loss as to how we do this. I am struggling myself and constantly feel that I am on information overload and that I will never keep up.

Any ideas about how we are going to master and teach this skill? If I am overloaded my teachers are feeling even more so because most are not naturally inclined to the technological world. This issue has been troubling me for a while because it is a skill I also need to teach my staff to help them manage the rapidly changing landscape of education.

Jeff’s recent article in the Techlearning Blog on the stages of the digital immigrant is another important reflection for on going professional development. It helps us identify where we are and where we need to be…. I have left both Clarence’s article and Jeff’s for the faculty meeting today. I will not be there so I will be very interested in hearing about the ensuing discussion.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Alan's Final session

At the final session Alan spoke about important components of leadership for supporting technology integration. He stated that fear of losing control is a greater problem than the technology learning curve. When an adult is invited to do something new the first reaction ( at a brain response level) is fear.

A leader acknowledges and validates fear.
What are the fears and the hopes? Will technology take away social interaction and will students loose social skills or in does it allow for connections across the globe creating empathy…every fear has a correlating hope.

Remember it is not about technology…
It is about critical thinking and communication……

Alan suggests that as one starting point every elementary school should connect with a convalescent home…. Alan’s earlier quote about two culturally diverse schools who connected online also applies here….“We met them on the inside before we met them on the outside”.

Alan also suggests - Get started with podcasts
The place to start is Audacity = free software for audio recording
The teacher does not need to know how to do the recording they just need to know where the opportunity is to make a recording AND then use this as part of creating an audience even if you start with family and friends.

Students developmentally NEED an authentic audience….your school alone is NOT enough…..they need to engage in social discourse. This will provide results because whether it is a video presentation, a podcast or a blog students are more willing to accept criticism from and anonymous teacher rather than the teacher in the room.

Finally videos and video conferencing are other important tools
Video can be broken down one channel at a time to provide feedback….audio only visual only….

Finally with every thing you do there is a time quality balance…you have to decide…do not spend more time if the pay of in quality is not there….

With all this said and done Alan stresses the One requirement for everyone is that ……you will learn how the internet works and teach children how to learn in this media dominated environment. All educators should be users and doers on the internet. In our paper world we all know how to read and create…Today in the digital world we must teach the same literacy skills…how to read the internet and how to create….. critical thinking first and publishing second

An important part of these essential literacy skills is that we must teach students how to deal with the flow of information. An important resources Alan shared with regard to literacy Wayback Machine which allows you to see historical views of a site and compare how a website has changed over time.

In closing Alan asked….Are you teaching your children that money controls the internet? Can you imagine if you did not know the difference between an ad and an article in a magazine?
Then he showed us how key terms are up for sale at Overture

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Alan Continued

Check out this wiki created by John in Bolton England. We talked with him in the seminar via Skype.
Students blogging- Kids had interviewed over skype a buisiness who was out sourcing and then interviewed people in China who were recieving the outsourcing.
This is a more rigorus activity than reading an article and repeating what it says.

Motivate the unmotivated

How do you meet people?

Teaching literature....within the classroom you have a limited perspective...what if you connected with people from South Africa or England...How would the perspective be different?
Type into alta vista "To Kill a Mocking Birg: uk to get the perspective from England

Gave another example of British version regarding orgins of the American Revolution
Then suggest a debate via skype with someone in England...It is about capturing the imagination of the students.
Break time

Live post from Alan November Leadership Conference in Los Angeles

Snipets and notes typed on the fly...
Boomerangs- Liberate them Right now 65% of kids return home between 19 and 28

What does it mean to be globally competitive?
Is there more economic opportunity in India than in the US—the question asked by an immigrant who is moving back ( students can not get into an Indian university because the US standards for Math and science is to low)
China has overtaken the Boston region in developing the upcoming companies

Russia etc recruit elementary teachers with math and science degrees
What are this countries expectations regarding what it means to be educated….

You can get a Stanford degree sitting anywhere in the world
Stanford on line high school 12,000 a year and you will have 3 years of Stanford credit.

17% to offshoring…
70,000 for a programmer in US vs 8,250 in India, China 9,000

When you are desperate you will learn
Should you feel a sense of urgency?

Michigan requires online learning to graduate from high school

Elementary – recruit teachers with math science degrees
HS start requiring online learning

A Whole New Mind- Daniel Pink a very important book.
3 things you need in a technology society
art, music, and social skills
Teach people to be creative and innovative – art and music are the road in to these areas

Think beyond the technology
Globalize the curriculum, create learning communities

Teach students to deal with massive amounts of information ( do not spoon feed small bits of content)
Globalization- teach empathy…think globally they will work in a globally connected world- are you teaching them to understand people across the world… if you only do one thing with internet teach social justice

Alan led a great skype demonstration of building global understanding.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Moodle Blogs- Are they blogs?

Moodle a one stop WEB 2.0 environment or is it? Let me start by saying I think moodle is a great program and I look forward to using it in our school. Martin Dougiamas has done us all a great service with the development of this open source tool. I am however perplexed, confused and a little disappointed by a recent discussion I read on the Moodle Forum. You can read the entire threaded discussion for yourself but I also hope you will weigh in here about your perceptions.

We have been looking at Moodle for about a year and we waited for version 1.6/1.7 to come out before we installed Moodle specifically because we were looking for the blog functionality. Here in lies my consternation. The blog function within Moodle does not allow for comments which to my way of thinking undermines the entire purpose of blogging in Web 2.0. There is much discussion within the forum about blogs vs forums and other moodle class activities. The way I understand the underlying statements almost everything seems to center on interclass conversations or teacher /student conversations. Certainly these have a place. Blogs, however are about global connections, expanding access to “experts”/teachers, forming personal learning networks, and connections….Without that capability, without the possibility of comments they become simply private journals that are publicly published.

“Blogs - finally Moodle has blogs for ongoing personal reflections, viewable by course, by group, by individual etc”…(description on the moodle forum) Is this a fancy personal notebook???

A forum by its very nature is intrinsically different than a blog. A forum tracks one subject. Entries are generally short in length and do not lend themselves to in text links to further information. They do not allow a person to easily track the development of any one individual’s thoughts. There are so many differences it is hard to list them yet it seemed in the Moodle forum that it was suggested they are interchangeable.

What do you think? What are the essential Web 2.0 elements related to blogs? Why/how are they important to learning? Did I miss something important in reading the Moodle forum?

Moodle is great…But is is not a one stop shop and for now we will continue to use Class Blogmiester or Word Press in conjunction with Moodle.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Personal Learning Networks for Every Teacher a Worthy Goal

Life is making it difficult to find time to read and consequently it becomes difficult to blog. This month (16, 17) I will attend a two day conference with Alan November and so I hope I can blog life from there. This weekend I got a little time to catch up with my bloglines account and one of Will’s posts struck a note with me. ( Clearly it did so for many other because there are 45 comments and I did not get a chance to go through them)

Will says…

“We go back and forth in this community about whether teachers who use blogs should blog, or podcast or read RSS feeds. I’ve always hesitated to come down on one side or the other in that debate for a variety of reasons. But it’s become clear to me that the answer has to be yes. If you are an educator, I think you have little choice but to choose option 3 in the Marco Torres mantra: “You can complain, quit or innovate.” I know in many ways it stinks to have to be an educator at a moment in history when things are changing on a glacial scale. But what you signed up for is preparing kids for their futures. You have little choice but to deal.”

Further on he writes

“you have the “greatest library in human history” at your fingertips. You have a billion potential teachers. You have an opportunity to learn in ways that you or I could not even have dreamed of when we were in school. And you have an opportunity to shepherd your students into a much more complex, much messier, and much more profound world of learning in ways that will help prepare them more powerfully for the world they face.”

Will’s words ring true and are a great source of encouragement to me. They have renewed my zeal to continue the project I started back in September. I am struggling with having the staff populate their bloglines accounts and write in their blogs. We started this activity, building Personal Learning Networks, over a month ago but it has not yet taken root. It seems that there is always something that keeps us to busy. Right now it is Report Cards and Parent Teacher Conferences. Because I understand the workload the staff carries I have tried to build time into our scheduled faculty meetings for them to read and blog but alas it has been hard. My hope is that if I can make it a regular part of our agenda it will become a habit and as it bears fruit it will take on a life of its own.

I think maybe Will’s post should be required reading….

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Monday, October 30, 2006

From the classroom - Student Work

As promised, I am also posting about student work. I have been team teaching in the 8th grade and we are working on search techniques and the validity of web site information in preparation for a social studies project. ( There are some nice resources at Kidz Online)
Even though the technology of IMs, music downloads and My space are used frequently at home, the students do not have a grasp of how to make a search engine work for them or how to separate fact from fiction when doing research. We started with the basic exercises to prepare them to do some research for our current election propositions.

About two weeks ago now we went into the computer lab to apply the ideas we had learned about validating a web site. The students were put in groups and given random topics. Their task was not to write about the topic but to find three websites with information about their topic and make a decision about the validity of the information. Then they had to write a short paragraph for each site and explain whether it was a reliable source and explain how they checked its validity.

Well as with many lessons it did not go quite as planned. their search techniques were still a little primitive aand so most groups only were able to evaluate one or two sites. BUT the moment we all long for came from one corner of the room where a student tentativley raised their hand. "Mrs Barreda we found this site ( they had stumbled on Wikipedia) and we were wonder about it because it says anybody can sign in an edit it! Well from this point I will let their words speak for themselves...Following is thier paragraph...

"For our researdh we used wikipedia. We thought that this website was useful in some situations, but in others it was not. The reason we thought that was because if you have an account you can write what you think and change what the information is saying. We thought that the website was useful because it gave us links to other websites of where they got their information. Wikipedia is a type of encyclopedia that helps you find information on a lot of subjects that you want to research about. We also learned more about wikipedia and what it was all about. We found out other pages to research about and how wikipedia is used and what it is used for."

This is what it is all about.....

This morning I caught up with some more blogline reading and Clarence also has a post about website validity with a link to a nice worksheet he used.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Catching up with K12 Online

Catching up with K12 Online

I listened/ watched a number of presentations this weekend andnow I feel a little more like a conference participant. In the process I have learned a “new” online skill. I’m sure for most of you this seems obvious but it was a great delight for me to realize that with a word processor open I could jot notes as the presentations were made- kind of a first step to live blogging that I want to do later this month when I attend an Alan November workshop.

So here is a look at the points that resonated with me this weekend.

First I re-listened to David Warlick’s keynote address which I will view again with my staff this week. This time around I zeroed in on his discussion of the four types of people who will succeed as described by Thomas Friedman. The point that the future experts will be adaptable and able to learn, unlearn and relearn is particularly poignant. It points to the needs of our students as they prepare to participate in the global market place of the future but at the same time I think it is an interesting comment on our educational systems and on us as educators. To be able to learn , unlearn and relearn are essential conditions of our own success.

I also listened to Vicki Davis's presentation Wiki Collaboration Across the Curriculum. I did not get to take notes on this presentation because I was cleaning my garage a the time. It was a great presentation though with straightforward steps to utilizing wikis. One thing that was very interesting is the interaction she described between the high school students and the 8th graders…this put a local spin on the idea of learning communities. I also appreciated the rubric she shared, her guidelines for wiki entries and the explanation of how she sees the relationship/ purpose of wikis and blogs.

Clarence Fisher’s presentation, Globally Literate, helped to pull together the specific skill sets the students need. (Clarence I loved your introduction…I did move to a front row seat!) He also put the literacy issue in its historic perspective. One of the thing I appreciate about Clarence’s presentation was that he presented skills in a hierarchical which is particularly important in the K 8 environment when foundational skills are being taught. He outlines teaching access skills and all that entails, comprehension skills and moving into thoughtful responses ( which entails production skills). I also appreciated the description of the factors involved in reading a web page and a teacher’s responsibility to provide direction and instruction for the students. (Questions raised include the multiple representations of information , links to more information, comments etc.) It was one of those things I knew in an intuitive way but have never taken the time to consider implicitly.

I also go through about half of Mark Wagner’s presentation on Web 2.0 and 2 Way Teaching before life interrupted me. On a practical level I came away with several things that I want to look at more carefully. One was an off handed mention of Google scholar which I had never heard of and now I want to explore. I also want to explore the wiki hmtech because our primary teachers had been considering making a wiki for Reading First. I hope to get back and finish listening to this presentation soon.

Tomorrow I have some student work to share.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Dream and the Gap

I didn’t mean to let so much time lapse between my posts. I have been doing some co-teaching over the last several days and setting up a secondary mini computer lab for the intermediate academy. We have gone from a school where computers often collected dust to not being able to keep up with the demand.

The K12 Conference is offering some dynamic content. The challenge with this on line conference is that I want to “attend” every session and I am finding it hard to keep up. Plus because I am not in some strange city in a hotel all of the daily demands on my time keep me from focusing on being present to the conference. I know the beauty is anytime anyplace but you are all doing do much I get worried about being left behind.

I did find time to read David Warlick and David Jake in Techlearning regarding what I term the Dream and the Gap.

I agree with David Jake that the climb is steep and there is a gap. I think all of us in the trenches recognize this fact. What does this mean in practical terms? One of my favorite sayings when faced with difficult and overwhelming situations goes like this... Do you know how you eat and elephant? One bite at a time. And so I also appreciate David Warlick’s vision because I believe we can eat the elephant.

As I indicated above, between June 2005 and today we have gone from a school with computers collecting dust to teachers fighting over the available technology. This includes teachers who range in age from their mid 60's to their mid 20's. Some who have just started teaching and some who have 15+ years of experience. It is all about a vision for the future and someone willing to lead the way. David Warlick dreams big and that is what we need. Dreamers, leaders and visionaries who will help us work smarter not harder. When David writes…..

"Ms. S keeps a regular blog where she writes about everything from homework assignments to reflections on course topics, with a full description posted each Monday morning on the how, what, and why of course material to be taught in the upcoming week.”

I suddenly had an insight into the work smarter concept. Teachers turn in lesson plans every Monday and we all know that even in an ideal world, many times they are an empty exercise to complete a requirement. Several of my teachers are currently establishing blogs so what if I said no more lesson plans on Mondays I will just subscribe to your blog.

As an administrator I have a lot of hats to wear but I also have to set priorities and make decisions. This year curriculum and supporting technology are at the top of my list. Along with this comes the fact that I have learned to say “no” to many of the daily distractions that come my way.

Thank you, David J, for grounding us in reality. There is a hard work ahead and we need to be willing to stay the course. Thank you, David W, for giving us hope and encouraging us to try.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

K12 online, Skype and Cool stuff at School - Who can ask for more?

Okay this week has been a roller coaster ( in a good way)! ( gee its only Tuesday okay now its Wed. )
K12 online
Monday morning I was up early in anticipation of the David Warlick’s keynote address. I started it at 5:30 am but with life’s interruptions I didn’t finish until 2 pm. It was a a great introduction to the online conference interface. The only problem so far are the distractions of daily life…I need to mark out the conference time of my planner.
The image of learning as side trips was powerful. How does learning happen? What are the most memorable moments even in a traditional classroom. I would hazard a guess that it is often the side trips. The teachable moments…the moments that follow the students natural curiosity and interests. These are not random moments however they are often the product of a creative and skilled educator. In David’s keynote we get a renewed glimpse of the wonder of the early technology age and a sense of excitement about what is to come.
In writing about K12 online Clarence writes…

“I am trying to convince my division to download all of the sessions when they are available and put them onto CDs or DVDs as a professional development library. Free, high - quality sessions,…”

This is truly open source at its best… Professional development that every school can afford ,that is flexible and available across the limitations of time and space.

I also go started with Skype this weekend. One of the high points on Monday morning was a short skype call with Alan November who was giving a keynote in New York. What a rush to have my first ever skype call in this context! In that short call ( maybe 60 sec?) Alan gave me a great idea for using skype at school. We have an outdated intercom system and most classrooms do not have phones so we are now setting up every room with skype. Rather than spending thousands on updating the intercom I invested $9.00 per room in headphones with mics!

From the classroom and the Faculty meeting arena this week this was a great week too. The 7th grade began using a Flickr toy, trading card maker to define and illustrate vocabulary for their unit on poetry. Look for my pos of their public posting! Some are really cool and they wil love you comments. Most have you have probably seen Titltv (Teacher's Improving Learning with Technology)but in case you haven’t check it out. It is a nice site for some beginning tech skills for teachers. Episode 10 gave every teacher a positive experience in excel today and they are ready to use it immediately even in the primary grades. I think one of the challenges for digital immigrants can be setting foot on the land. Success always provides encouragement for more adventures.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tips for Writing a Good Blog- a resource for our classrooms

I just stumbled on this blog when I was wandering around It is a list of criterea for writing a good blog entry. It covers among other things choosing a good title, using the pyramid format common in journalism and considering foriegn readers. I think the reason this post on how to write a good blog entry resonated with me is that it has a direct correlation with the needs of our students and ourselves to be able to skim quickly for information. As Clarence writes "Reading is different online. We need to teach kids to skim through vast amounts of information, marking off some pieces for later, more careful consumption, while clearing off everything we don't need." This in turn says something about how we need to teach them to write so that other will be able to skim their work.

Monday, October 09, 2006


David Warlick has been invloved in an interesting conversation regarding textbooks. In a recent post he asks....
The question is not, do I use textbooks or do I chuck them for the Internet. The much more interesting question is what will the textbook evolve into as the conditions of the information landscape change so dramatically? And, will the textbook industry have the vision and courage to drive this evolution/revolution or will it come, like so much else, out of the open source community?

One thing that struck me in this post was the parallel to an article from my local paper which I wrote about ilast week. It was about publishing scholarly scientific research online. One side felt that it would elicit more peer review and allow more information to be made available and broaden the number of experts who could weigh in on any given research project. The other side argued that the traditional peer review before publication was very important to protect quality.
Textbooks as a source of authoritative information have value. They are an educational tool but so is Web 2.0. As Dave said it is not either/or. However if the way we teach is changing then by necessity the tools must change. Will the textbook companies respond? I would guess the answer is slowly…..There are really very few textbook companies because they all have common parent companies. I agree with the scientific scholars who are pushing for online publishing. It will encourage peer review and allow for these wonderful tools (textbooks) to be remixed to reflect todays learning enviroment. I hope the open source community will push the envelope because we need that push to jump start this.
Textbooks are a big part of our yearly budget and so I have to seriously evaluate what we decide to purchase. The days have long since passed where the textbook was the curriculum. Many primary source are already online, as well as many authoritative works. Will it be the work of our students under the watchful eyes of the teachers who in the end draw on the vast store of authoritative sources to put in play a digital curriculum accessible to all ?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A great idea!

I just ran across this post from Susan this morning. WikiPlaces: the Essence of Your Favorite Places Check out this great idea for a simple but meaningful project that can be used in an age appropriate fashion from K to 12. It has all of the components I have been looking for to help get our technology integration rolling. It is teacher friendly - that is relatively simple. The concept works well with a variety of objectives. It allows for instruction in a variety of Web 2.0 skills. It is scalable. Finally, as Susan points, out it does not require parental permissions because no student names are used which makes it great for the primary grades.
Thanks again Susan!
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thinking about the mechanics of change

Where do we go from here? How do we get there?

In thinking about our new Academies and especially the Information Technology Preparatory Academy for our 6th, 7th and 8th grades I have been pondering next steps and the mechanics of change.

In an organic and almost spontaneous way many good things have happened throughout the Academies including a deeper sense of collegiality and professional learning networks among the teachers in each academy. As different people try things like the LCD projector they in turn share their new expertise with others. All of this is very positive and will provide a foundation for systemic change.

In the primary grades last year there was some major systemic change as they embraced the Reading First program. In reflecting on that experience I had an Ah Ha moment….

Believing in the vision while not knowing the particulars of the how too is the first step but then we must come to grips with the fact that….

New ways of doing thing are time consuming so it is not business as usual.

Some things have to be modified temporarily (like how much material you can cover) to allow for the learning curve involved in changing how you teach.

To that end this is what we are doing now:

Technology Integration Template/Plan

How can we better engage the students and teach to multiple modalities by employing “digital pencils”

Disclaimer: Lessons learned from the implementation of Reading First. New ways of doing things are time consuming. Our overarching goals are to engage the students, have them take ownership of learning , stimulate their ability to do critical thinking and to find and utilize information (knowledge).

These become our power standards and take a place of primacy in our curricular planning (coverage of content maybe temporarily altered).

Part One

What are we currently teaching?

What creative tools can we use? Are there some simple first steps?

(What traditional activity will this replace)

Part Two -To get the desired results

What do we need to discuss (concepts and directions) and model for this to be effective?

Do we (students and teachers) have clear criteria for assessment?

This is the best statetment of vision I have seen in a while! Thanks Chris for your profound words...It certainly speaks to our vision[ substitute IT Preparatory Academy]

From Chris Lehman’s ribbon-cutting remarks on Thursday…

There is another idea central to the creation of the Science Leadership Academy– and that is that schools can no longer exist in a vacuum in our society. We need students to be able to see beyond the walls of their school, beyond the boundaries of their neighborhoods to the see themselves and their learning as part of a much larger world. We live in an age of interconnectedness, where the global village has allowed us access to information at a rate faster than in any time in human history. We must give students the tools to critically analyze that information, to make judgments for themselves, to draw their own conclusions and then to join that debate as informed and impassioned citizens of this country and our world. Today, more than ever before, it is our task to prepare students to be involved in the world around them, to be content producers as well as content consumers, and to be active participants in their immediate community of Philadelphia and the world beyond our city limits. Our students must understand that learning is not limited by the walls of the school or the hours of the school day, but rather that it is a lifelong, 24/7/365 endeavor.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Scholarly Research goes Web 2.0

Did anybody else pick up this piece of news? Scientific community may take seriously the online posting of scholarly research and opening it up to a broad field of review. The article sites two points; one that the proceedure for getting research published in current scientific journals is very constraining and secondly that it leaves the power in the hands of a few. The article is just one more indicator of the way thinking is changing about how we do scholarly work. It really fits hand in hand with Jeff's post about citations. as the article notes there is some hesitation about this new development but my money is on the sucess of these online posts.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Are reference pages dead?

Jeff writes an interesting piece in Techlearning which poses the following question.

As I teach my technology classes, I always make it a requirement for students to cite their work and give links to resources they’ve used. In this new digitally connected world is the way we cite information changing?

He suggests the reference page has died and that in line links are the new citations. I think his premise is right. As a reader it is very helpful to link through to the original sources of information ad it leads to much deeper reading. Let’s be honest even in graduate school I did not spend much time looking up the scholarly citations that were in footnotes or works cited primarily because the works were not readily available to me. The times I did use them were when I was writing my own paper and was looking for other sources. How much easier to do your own research, to grow your knowledge and construct meaning if all of those citations were links!. Isn’t one of of our goals to teach critical thinking and evaluation of the construction of knowledge? Bring on the links so we can acess and discuss the sources!

As for Jeff’s points about MLA and APA I can’t agree more. I too spent a great deal of time trying to get my citations right in school; time that could have been better spent on content. If you must follow the old format then use a citation maker. There are lots of them out there including one on the kid friendly

One commenter on Jeff's article stated that
“Even when links are embedded in a document, the reference page still provides a useful benefit. Maybe not so important at 7th grade, but at some point for sure.”

I am not sure what he had in mind and he does not suggest exactly what the benefit might be. If we are looking at the bigger picture which includes footnotes that are more than a reference and provide commentary which is outside the scope of the papers main body I would suggest that they also should be hyperlinks. Scholarly or just plain explanatory footnotes or endnotes are important in higher education but in our digital world if the work is posted electronically then the notes should be easily accessed through hyperlinks. It makes the presentation much more user friendly.

Ultimately I think we are talking about define good form in an electronic era. Just like we have to reconsider how we teach and how we asses we have to reconsider the norms for digitally written work.

My one concern as a K to 8 educator is that our students may be going off to higher education environments (High School and Colleges) which have not adopted “digital pencils” (to borrow a phrase from the Grandview Librarian) or who are using them as if they were traditional pencils. This is not meant to point fingers or imply that high school and colleges are not moving simply reflects the reality that if I change how we do things I also have to consider the next step in their educational process and make sure they are prepared. Change takes time.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I just read Will's article in Edutopia online. As always his article is both insightful and articulate. It is well nuanced for a wide audience and I plan to share it with teachers, students, parents, and other administrators.

I have wanted to put together a succinct piece to explain more about the direction we are moving and why we are making changes.Thank you Will, for pulling it together for me!

I have quoted chunks from his article below but please read it in context.…There is so much there and so much more of value. These parts are just part of my thoughts about the whys?

It is not our Father's Internet- things are changing

Will says…

It's amazing in many ways that in just a few short years, we have gone from a Web that was primarily "read only" to one where creating content is almost as easy as consuming it. One where writing and publishing in the forms of blogs and wikis and podcasts and many other such tools is available to everyone. One where we can connect not just to content but to people and ideas and conversations as well.

The world has/ is changing because technology has changed how we do business and how learn

Will says

This Read/Write Web, or Web 2.0, as some call it, is transforming the traditional structures of many of our most important institutions. How does business change when markets become lively conversations between the consumers who buy their products? What happens to politics when potentially every voter can give immediately direct feedback to elected representatives on important issues, or to journalism when anyone with a wireless camera phone can report on events both large and small?

Think Amazon with consumer reviews or our local Daily News with a call for citizen reporters

It is time to seek a new ways of doing school
Basic skills are important but we need to focus on creating life long learners.

As Will says

Most of us now live in a world where, with access, knowledge is abundant, yet we have yet to reconsider our traditional school model, which is based on the obsolete idea that knowledge is scarce. Take a look at the more than 1,400 courses available at MIT OpenCourseWare (see "Crack the Books,"
September/October 2004), which seeks to "provide free, searchable, access to MIT's course materials for educators, students, and selflearners around the world." It's an amazing array of syllabi, readings, even video lectures from professors that is out there for any of us to tap into, free of charge. It's just one of millions of places where we can learn on the Web, yet most of our students still expect "real" learning to take place only in a classroom.

The tools are available, the students are already using the technologies at home, the missing link is to connect the two and provide mentoring and guidance.
As Will says

This is a world where literacy is changing, where readers need to be editors. Now that anyone can publish just about anything in a heartbeat, checking for facts and relevance often occurs after publication. If you don't believe that, go to MartinLuther-, which comes up in the top ten Google search results for King yet is published by a white-supremacist group and is intended solely to discredit his work through duplicity and falsehoods. (See "Online, on Alert," page 16.) If our students don't know how to find that out, if we ourselves don't know how to do that, I would argue that we are illiterate."

We have a responsibility to become digitally literate and to ensure that all of our students are also.. Teaching digital literacy is perhaps one of our most critical tasks. With the world shrinking before our eyes and our knowledge base continually growing.. our students ability to navigate the world and remain in charge of their own destiny will be dependent upon their abiltity to evaluate information, construct meaning and think critically.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An In-Service to Construct Meaning

Starting to Read, Reflect, Write and Construct Meaning- A teacher In-service

Monday was an in-service day and we began to take the next steps in the world of Web 2.0. at the start of the year we considered the question of what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century. Our topics included, the Net Generation, the history of the net and The World is Flat.

Yesterday was about working with Web 2.0 and imagining the possibilities.

Benchmarks to help set a baseline- Where are we and where are we going?

The first thing we did was discuss the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). These are in the process of being updated but they still serve as good starting benchmarks. It is important to understand that unlike other curriculum standards these do not define a “Class” to be taught but rather highlight for us important components of technology to be integrated across the curriculum. Because they are being rewritten and reflect thinking that is 5 years old the grade specific benchmarks define a minimum standard of technology integration which give us some concrete places to start. In reviewing the standards it also provided the teachers with a chance to self-evaluate their technological knowledge and capabilities and to ask for help or instruction to ensure they felt competent to teach to these benchmarks.

Networking as professional development-

Borrowing a page from corporate America as professional educators we need to find people who are already doing what we hope to do and associate with them to learn from them and to reach our goals. We have often talked about collaboration and professional conversations as important to perfecting our craft and to our own personal growth. As educators working in a small Catholic School ( 1 grade per room and a student body of about 270) our opportunity for professional dialogue with peers has been limited. Suddenly with Web 2.0 the world the world becomes our community and the possibilities are endless.

Here is where the fun begins. Every teacher now has a Bloglines account and to get them started everybody down loaded a feed for Remote Access and Weblogg-ed two of my favorite feeds. We spent time exploring these blogs and then used their embedded links and lists to branch out and begin to seek those voices which most resonated with each individual teacher. I am looking forward to hearing in future meeting what they have read and discovered.

Reading what others are saying is only one part of the conversation. What are students producing? This was our springboard to begin to imagine what our own students might do. We listened to First and Second grade podcasts, we reade a Blog from Clarence’s Junior High class(See entry from 9/17) and we explored a webquest by Anne Davis which was designed to get elementary students blogging. ( It even includes a rubric). The final student products which we explore were a segway into the next part of Web 2.0 which is participating in the conversation.

We read Jeff Utrecht’s post( see below)which empowered us see ourselves as part of the global community. Then we visited the digital art projected posted by the middle school in Shanghai where we posted comments on some of the students work. I also e-mailed Jeff and he said he will pass on to the teacher and the student’s that we visited there work. It really was quite powerful.

Jeff said....

A teacher in our middle school is running a digital photography elective. She came to me a week ago and asked about a place to host the pictures for all to see and to share with the wider school community.

Guess what? You are the wider school community. Their first project was to take 3 to 5 pictures that represent their lives and then manipulate them in Photoshop. Some great digital art that if you and your students have a moment could use a comment. :)

Our goal for the day was to enter Web 2.0 and begin our own journey of reading , reflecting and commenting. It was a great day and opened a lot of doors and opportunities …as with all change it takes time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How native are the "technology natives"

How native are the natives?
The phrase technology is transparent for students took on new meaning today! I worked with the 8th grade teacher to introduce the students to digital literacy and we were surprised with what happened. We started with Alan Novemeber’s quiz on digital literacy our plan then was to dissect URL’s with them and then model checking websites for validity of information.
We discovered that technology was truly transparent to them but not in the way we had anticipated. It was more akin to them driving a car without any knowledge the traffic codes. Most of the class, (probably 85%) did not know how to answer question #1 Name three search engines. And it went down hill from there. It was not because they hadn;’t us computers or the internet it was because they new nothing at all about basic technical vocabulary or how things were put together. We built on what they did know…putting terms like Google and Ask Jeeves on the board and deconstructing the phrase “Search engine” Then did the same with Xanga, My space and Live Journal and deconstructed WEB/LOG

Okay the lights went on…then we went to the computer lab to do a little searching for information using noodletools and discovered that many of the students had some difficulty understanding the questions the web site asked to guide them in their research. All of this is important baseline data and tells us a lot about what we need to do. Technology is transparent, indeed but only in terms of its operation.

The students are generally excited about using technology but they are not quite so motivated to take charge of their learning and they lack some critical skill sets. But that is our job and so we look at this as both an opportunity and a challenge and we look forward to seeing the growth over time.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Keyboarding and basic skills are important

A recent article of Edutopia has helped confirm our instinct and vision for our Intermediate Preparatory Academy. They report on the often overlooked importance of addressing keyboarding in the early years. At least in our area the high schools no longer offer this class assuming the students have some level of proficiency when they enter. In our school with the advent of our Junior High Information technology preparatory academy we have chosen to make keyboarding an integral part of the intermediate grades. We are also planning to include it on our entrance exam and offer summer classes for new students who do not have basic proficiency.

I agree wholeheartedly with Patsy Lanclos who says “Once students learn to keyboard and learn basic word processing skills, the integration of the computer into all disciplines is much easier.”

Vignettes of opening a new year

Vignettes of opening a new year… first installment
I have been out of the loop but in the fray…

Telling the story started with a discussion of what it means to “educate for the 21st century”. I invited a guest speaker to our opening in-service – via the MIT lecture series we had a visit from Thomas Friedman. Our world has changed and so must we…
Borrowing and remixing from the many prolific story tellers key components of the story include: the exponential growth of the web in the last 15 years, the rapid changes in knowledge and the outdating of information, the changing face of commerce and its effect on the job market.

The other part of the story is exploration of how our students are different because of their status as digital natives. Most significant are the fact that choices are integral to all they do because of the access technology create to music, friends and information. The next is the recognition that technology is transparent for them. It is just the way they do other things. This is important because it is not a curriculum item for them (even though it might be for many of us) For them it is simply a way of doing whatever it is that needs doing from talking to friends to finding information.

What does all this mean for our students? Changing the way we think about learning and the way we teach

Recognizing their inherent skill sets and building on their intelligences---Hmmm Perhaps an important missing piece needs to be added to Gardner's Multiple intelligences- digital intelligence ---

Recognizing the skills they will need for the future job market-
The ability to access, evaluate information and to use it to solve problems and create knew knowledge
The ability to use technology in a ethical and responsible manner
The ability to communicate in a global market place which includes the need to respect and appreciate a variety of cultures

Next post will talk about what we are doing now that we have discussed the story.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The story continues

The story continues…
Here is day two’s installment. LA Daily News - Citizen journalism makes debut.

This is history in the making," Daily News publisher Tracy Rafter said Sunday…The world is sort of watching this project. It is probably going to set the stage for journalism, for media, for communications," Rafter said. "We are happy to be setting the stage for the future."

I have already signed up and I am thinking of ways to make this a classroom reality. Students under 14 require parent permission.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Innovation for the LA Daily News- You are the Storyteller

Check this out! LA Daily News - You are the storyteller
This was front page story today in our local newspaper. If you check out the link you will see this is not a small newspaper because I live in the greater Los Angeles area. Talk about an opportunity for students and all of us to have a voice! Not to mention the business applications i.e. Change in the ways of gathering and reporting news. Who knows where this will lead and what other papers will follow suit.

As I am putting together my staff presentation I can’t think of any better example of how things are changing right in our own backyard. How much more urgent can it get that we teach information literacy and ethical and responsible use? How much greater an opportunity do we neded to begin to give students a voice and an audience?

This whole idea is brand new and will take some time to digest. In addition to the opportunity I think there is power in the link between print medium and web medium. The implications of this are not 100% clear but ….. I think it helps bridge the divide between digital immigrant and digital natives- that is to say that parents, teachers etc who are more comfortable with print media will see published work and recognize value in the online activity. I need to spend more time thinking about this but I did not want to delay posting this great news!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Help me to Rip ,Remix and Learn

It is time now to synthesize what I have learned thus far. It is not an easy task but it is precisely the task in which we hope to engage our students. I have read 100’s of blogs. I have listened to and looked at many presentations on 21st century literacy, blogs, wikis, RSS, and Web 2.0 but it is time now to consider my audience and craft a message that conveys the big picture and challenges us to think and create our own meaning.

I am indebedt to all of you out there who have graciously posted your handouts, powerpoints, podcasts and links because I truly am in the process of rip, remix and learn.

A couple of things that I think are important at this stage:
As several of you have referenced Alan November’s point that it is about learning not technology. Coupled with that is the concept that for digital natives the technology is transparent ( I believe that comes from Will Richardson among others).

As educators, I believe that our primary goal in the 21st century should be information literacy. This means we are about much more than using technology… we are about teaching critical thinking and evaluation of information and then using that information to accomplish new things or solve problems or create new knowledge.

Please help me out here:
My problem –
I have a bloglines account , a account , a technorati account- but I can’t keep the information or perhaps more accurately the ideas organized. Therefore I am having trouble giving credit where credit is due.

For example: Someone wrote something to the effect..
Readiing and writing are about literacy
Web 2.0 is about reading and writing
Web 2.0 is about literacy

Because Bloglines only keeps me current and I did not clip this quote now I can’t find it.

This is a challenge I truly want to conquer so that I can help the students and staff with the same issue.

It is one thing to read and then comment right away…it is another to read and read and read and think and think and then decide this idea or that are important to your audience.
Please share with me some strategies to help …

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Examples from Today's newspaper- The world of our digital natives

I am back from vacation and now entering the stress full preparation for the opening of School Aug 29 ( teachers are back on the 20th). I am still in the process of synthesizing what I have learned this summer and finding a way to translate this into something the teachers can grab on to and run with….

This morning when I was reading the paper I was immediately struck by two more examples of how our students view of the world is different than their teachers. In the Buisiness section of the “Daily News” (Los Angeles) there is an article about the changes in TV viewing. What caught my attention was the following quote about Chris Anderson the editor of Wired magazine. ( Bold is mine)

“Chris Anderson’s children don’t know what a channel is. (He) uses computers to record TV shows the same way a TiVo does. His kids can search for their favorite shows..and when they see a show listing on the computer... the only way they know what channel it has ever been on is if they have little logos or signage superimposed on the show.”

Part of the point of the article is that TV schedules no longer matter. And so again we see how different the world of the digital native is … ( I suspect that the ubiquitous availability of programming may also play a role in our flat world)

The other morning article that caught my attention is an example of the half life of knowledge. How many planets are there in the solar system???? 9 this week and probably 12 next week (with an official ruling due). This has also caused a us to consider the definition of a planet. Hmmmm

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Time to Think

I leave for 8 days of camping tomorrow morning but when I return it is back to school and all the commotion around making sure everything is ready for the teachers, students and parents. The teachers come back on the 20 th and the students on the 29th.
My head is full of things to think about and I am still struggling with applying the new skills I have acquired. For those of you who like me need to bring others on board and try to provide them with a start in Web 2. 0 you may want to visit A History Teacher's blog. His experience gives insight into where we are and he also provides some great resources to help us move forward. I have a big in- service to plan but I am going to try to disconnect for a while and let everything simmer. To that end I just got the following information from the MIT newsletter…So this will be what I download and listen to in the car… The description sound so right. Once school starts it is hard to find thinking …time
The Ceaseless Society: What Happens to Our Mind, Body, and Spirit When we Just Never Stop?
Jon Kabat-Zinn shares insights about mindfulness, reflection, and stillness in this remarkable and inspiring presentation. Highly recommended for the busiest of busy people, especially those who feel they don't have the time to think.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Assesment an Important Question

In discussing assessment, David Muir writes about what could happen if blogging merely becomes an exercise.

My worry is that a teacher could arrive at the end of a Blog Unit in the pack, have a full set of ticks for every pupil, and assume that they have "done blogs". They could then move onto the next unit without ever going near blogs again. They may have ticked the boxes, but have they actually assessed learning? Perhaps not.”

He raises an important issue about our educational practices in general I have been thinking a lot about assessment and had already decided that along with our technology discussion it would be an important component of my Sept teacher in-services.

To that end I read Transforming Classroom Grading by Robert J Marzano. I believe he has some very important things to say about the question of how we evaluate students and assign grades. I do not have time at the moment to do a thorough review of his book but as I mentioned in my comment on David’s blog I believe that he has some very practical guides to help us tackle the issues of assessment.

Two key elements in his presentation are the careful evaluation of all assessments to determine exactly what knowledge and skill are being assessed and using rubrics to measure mastery rather than simply giving the average of all assignments as the grade. He believes any assessment (unless they are measuring only one thing) should be broken down by the specific knowledge or skill with separate "grades" for each area rather than a lumped into one test grade. He also has developed a great set of adaptable rubrics around the essentials of the curriculum which he identifies as: Information topics, Skill or process topics, and Thinking and Reasoning Skills. He also makes a case for grades as reflective of mastery levels rather than a simple average of all assignments. He argues that if we are deliberate about what we are assessing we should see growth with more practice. ( I know...Duh..but it is my simplistic explanation...because his work is incredibly carefully done)This is only the briefest of summaries and does not do justice to the well developed concept in the book.

I confess I do not fully know how to move forward with this…But I am hoping that others of you will have read this book and that together we can discover its implications.

On another note I am off to go coming this Sunday so I will not be posting from the 6th to the 14th …I will be back though refreshed and ready to go.

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Web 2.0

Lenhart, A. and Madden, M. Teen Content Creators and Consumers. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project, November 2, 2005, states-“ more teens in urban USA with family incomes of less than $30k are publishing digital media to the web than any other group of kids!”

Dr Tyson from Mabry provided me with this interesting statistic.
This is important for our community… for me it says…

This is not about current economic status it is about leading the way for the future. It is about envisioning our students effective and successful in the world market place and WEB 2.0 levels the playing field so let’s get on with helping them discover the knowledge and use it to secure their place in the future! They already know it gives them a voice and they know they can create so lets help them with the purpose and vision..

Maybe reading the World is Flat should be part of the curriculum.

A Light bulb (of sorts)
Reviewing Will Richardson's notes from his Open Source presentation at NECC something struck me that may make a difference in how we blog at school and how we present blogging. In defining blogging and differentiating it from a more general concept of blogging he talks about “Real blogging”
Links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience response in mind. (Real blogging)
Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links and comments. (Complex blogging)

I think this is a key in understanding how to employ the tool and in teaching effective, responsible us of this technology.
If we reach the stage of blogging that is analytical and based on reading (aha web 2.0) then the issues surrounding social and personal blogging are significantly lessened. While there are still ethical issues and conventions of politeness to follow…the emphasis has shifted from me (and others) to the text, idea or concept. There is much less rason or opportunity to stray into the personal or social realm.


I was planning to spend a good deal of our opening year staff meeting on the question “What does it mean to educate students for the 21st century?” We say that is part of our purpose in our mission statement but we have never really considered what it means. It will be interesting to see where it takes us. We will spend a lot of time reading blogs and pre-meeting we will read the digital native articles.

But now the ah moment…as I was reading Karl Fisch’s blog I noticed a little box in the corner that said “….21st century teachers program” …to educate students for the 21st century we must become 21st century teachers. This along with the following quote from Karl's comments on the eMints presentation says it all…

“Quote 7: Refuse to think for your students.
I really, really, really (did I mention "really"?) like this quote. I think if all teachers read this to themselves before each class (and maybe even out loud to the class), it would help tremendously.
The title of her presentation (Fearless Courage) came from this quote from Andrew Powell of B.F. Goodrich:
Fearless courage is more than visionary. Many have the ability to look at events and trends and describe the future state. However, few are willing to take the risk of acting on that vision unless the current state is bad. To reform or change tactics when things are working, based on your vision of the future, requires courage.”

Thursday, July 27, 2006



How do we teach our students to evaluate their information?
How do we change prevailing attitudes (especially in institutions of higher learning) to them?

I had an interesting conversation at my family reunion regarding wikipedia. My cousin, a professor at a California State University, was rather outspoken about the fact that the university has banned Wikipedia. Any paper with a reference to Wikipedia can not receive a grade any higher than a “B”. His point was that as a “source” the information has not been validated. While I appreciate the need to verify information I am wondering about the impact of this policy. My argument at the time was that Wikipedia is a great source to review and use to move through to other references. I felt the university policy denied or at best discouraged access to a wonderful source of information and perhaps more importantly to the discussions which center around the creation of many of the articles regarding important topics of knowledge. By default the policy and accompanying attitude probably means that the university professors are not contributing their knowledge base to this growing information portal. So I am saddened and not sure how to answer the second question above.

What can I do?
First, I still need to understand more fully how Wikipedia works. In the meantime, since the conversation with my cousin, I have been viewing some Wikipedia articles and have found the discussion tab and the reference section are wonderful resources. As an educator I need to spend time deconstructing Wikipedia articles with students. As a person who cares about this wonderful source of information I have a responsibility to work in my own areas of expertise providing references for the articles.

Stumbling blocks

First, as an administrator I have a concern that I will face my stiffest opposition from parents (and maybe even from my immediate supervisors) as I incorporate Web 2.0 in the classrooms at our school. The most persuasive arguments I believe are the concepts of "half life of knowledge" and The Earth is Flat. The challenge is to distill this into a coherent explanation that will be presentable in 2 or 3 minutes and will be persuasive.

Another difficulty I am encountering is the speed of the current conversation. Sometime (maybe even most of the time) I feel like I can not keep up. If Web 2.0 is about reading and writing it is also about thinking and it is here that I falter. I am finding that it takes an incredible amount of time for me to assimilate and digest the information I am reading- perhaps because there are so many topics that are important and so much to learn. When I read blogs like Will's  I am often inspired to enter the conversation but after a day of thinking there are already 20 plus new comments to read and think about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Necc06 Further Reflections

Necc06 Reflections of an Administrator- What do we need to create real change?
The true power of NECC depends on us.

I have read a lot of wonderful blogs from individual teacher practioners and I had some good conversations at NECC. I went to a number of presentation which were not only enlightening but which truly encouraged me to make a deep commitment to a vision for digital equity and to improve student learning by embracing Web 2.0. All of that said I feel a need to reflect on some of what I have read and the challenges of systemic change from the point of view of an administrator.
I have read in numerous places that some teachers struggle against district or school policies which deny them access and I sympathize with their challenges. I have also read about the need to involve those decision makers at the higher levels which is also important. At the ISTE institute which I attended at the end of NECC there was discussion of the need to develop a shared vision.. a daunting but important task.
I can not offer any explicit expertise but I can offer antidotal evidence from my experience and I can share something of my own struggle.

Although I hate to admit it I am one of those educators who was using technology to engage students 10 years ago and then I became an administrator and struggled mightily with how to get our staff to continue what I had started. Certainly it couldnÂ’t be legislated and the demands of my new position and the tyranny of the urgent outweighed my efforts.

In the last year I have rekindled my sense of urgency and through the tutelage of numerous bloggers , especially the encouragement of Clarence Fisher( . I have begun to find a way to breathe life into my vision. Time and experience are key components to local implementation so a part of every weekly faculty meeting will be held in the computer lab to work with a variety of things. As I build a learning community through blogging I hope to pull the faculty into the community (and help them build their own- which will suit their needs). I hope to provide time and modeling for pod casting, finding resources and building lessons.

To build on the model of connector I have to connect my facuty with Web 2.0 and beyond. But to be effective I have to also build connections for all of our constiguents. And to do this I have to continue the conversationss of NECC because I do ot have the tineor resources to build the message from scratch. It is interesting to see that the best and most focused conversations may be growing out the brief connectionss I made with others through spotlight sessions or discussions at the poster sessions and the Open Source booth.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

NECC06 Reflections

Now that I’ve come home and found a little time to reflect first and foremost I am struck by the fact that as much as I would like to deny it I am a digital immigrant and I have not fully assimilated into the new culture. Even now my head is spinning and I can not absorb information fast enough nor multitask well enough to keep my lines of thought clear.

NECC did help me by solidifying my resolve and sense of urgency. Because 4 members of the staff were with me it also helped build a shared vision and a common language so I am confident that we will move ahead.

What impacted me?

The Open Source presentations…
I went to several Open Source presentations and I saw and used thin clients. It was interesting to juxtapose this experience with a hike through the Exhibit Hall. How can one doubt that there are issues regarding equal access. Don’t get me wrong much of what I saw in the Exhibit Hall was great and not everything had a price tag. But understanding the potential for open source software made the hype of the hall less glitzy. One of the most immediately useful pieces of information from the Open Source presentations was the catalogue compiled of the wide variety of software available. Go take a look empower your families and your students without breaking the bank. Let's even the playing field for all students (and schools). (The price of licensing had almost made us put our plans on hold). Wouldn’t it be sad that we marginalized ourselves not teaching to the digital native simply for lack of funding.

For the Open Source catalogue go to

For more info on digital natives see,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.htm

Will Richardson’s presentation(s)
I had read his blog for a while before I swept away from blogs by day to day life and I knew hearing him was an important step in creating shared vision for our staff and motivation. I was not disappointed! Will puts a face on the issues of digital native vs digital immigrant and he challenges all of us to action. But he also leads from a place of practice which helps us see the road and ahead and the possibilities. His talk on Web 2.0 has been blogged in more details by others but the a few things that will be important to me. The juxtaposition of the beer ad and a my space page opened my eyes in a new way. I have a my space account and I have seen plenty examples of accounts made by the digital natives but I had not made the connection between what advertisers know and we as educators have failed to grasp. Thanks Wil… it really is about connections and links not just on a web page but those links of understanding and insight in our minds. The other important idea for me was the concept of teachers as connectors…this is a powerful image and is different than the concept of facilitator. It conjures a collaborative model and builds on the idea of “work with others” rather than “do your own work”

Finally before this post gets too long I have to comment on the ISTE institute. What an awesome opportunity to set an intentional course for the future. This occupied the full day for us on Friday and Saturday and was worth every minute of time. The institute provided a nice balance between building knowledge and building practical plans. Moving forward is always one person at a time but true systemic change requires a shared vision and willingness to be accountable for your plan…The institute provides the structure for that and more. It helps us set a direction and the wonderful folks at ISTE provide us with the mentorship and support along the way. As we first try to change it is hard to make heads or tails of how to pull all this new information together and put it into practice but ISTE stands ready to help!

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

NECC06 Just back

I know I have been silent for a while....but you should hear from me much more regularly now. Not only did I have the opportunity to go to NECC but I along with four memebers of my staff were part of the ISTE institute. This has been quite a week!
Before I hit the highlights just a quick update on our school transformation. In Fall of 2006 we officially open the doors to three new Academies with Grades 6to 8 being a Informataion and Technology Academy. So at the end of this year every classroom was dismantled and reestablished as we changed the physical location of every classroom to facilitate the identity of the Academies! This ws an enormus undertaking not just physically but emotionally because it required a shared vision for the future. The wonderfully dedicated staff took a leap into the unkown and I commend them for their courage!

Returning now to this weeks events.... As a first timer it was a head numbing experience but it also brought focus and energy to the tasks before us. As a staff it gave us a common language and provided a vehicle for my vision to become our vision....for my sense of urgency to beome ours.....
My initial refelctions on NECC06are in a separate entry because of length..

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A new paradigm finds its logical place for praxis

Reading the CARET site with the research reports I found myself wondering about why, given the case studies and research, the praxis with technology lags behind. While each specific application may not have been tested and “proved” the potential positive impact on learning is very clear. We are all realists enough to know that this is not a miracle or one size fits all solution but we also know it is an important part of our world and our lives and it is real world learning for our students. Clarence waxes eloquently on these issues in his recent posts.

The issues for me, in the very beginning stages of encouraging implementation and experimentation, center on a reflection regarding the paradigm shift that has been touted for many years now of the “guide on the side”.. It seems to me that though in many circles we talk about this idea and even acknowledge it as the preferred model we have not yet seen it take hold in daily practice.

To my way of thinking two issues surface in my own experience of trying to share the vision for the uses of technology-

· The tools ( and the learning curve) are intimidating for some.
· The technologies of podcasts , blogs, streaming video, and distant experts all force the issue of “guide on the side” and they are messy.

To encourage implementation I was struck by the need to affirm the teachers in their role of curriculum developers and help them frame the questions to guide that practice.

This idea come from an article on CARET which states:

“In a qualitative analysis of nine case studies of schools where technology was used to conduct inquiry-based learning, (Means & Olson, 1997) described the role of teachers as "curriculum developers." Technology integration involved teachers in rethinking and reshaping their curriculum. Key questions for teachers to ask themselves as they reorganize curricula in terms of the technology application(s) they have selected are:
· What does the technology offer students in terms of developing concepts and content?
· How does it help students to carry out inquiry processes?
· How will students work together collaboratively or cooperatively?
· What is the relationship between technology and other instructional materials?
· What new knowledge of my content or discipline, of teaching, or of technology do I need in order to foster new learning in my students?
· What knowledge processes, and skills do students need before using the technology?
· My addition- What is the authentic audience for this learning and how can my students enter into a dialogue with them?

If we are committed to being “guides on the side” to support inquiry based learning then we need to begin to practice this and we need to provide the enhanced access to knowledge and dialouge that current technology offers.

As an administrator I must lead by example and then provide practical opportunities for the teachers to try it for themselves. What better use of faculty meeting time than everyone together in the computer lab sharing and trying together.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

If this is the vision how do we evangelize others

There is an interesting disscussion going on regarding the "new story" on David Warlick's blog. It covers alot of interesting territotry about what is at the heart of what we are doing. I resonate with a great deal of what is said including the concepts that it is more about instruction and learning, and relationships and connections than it is about blogs, computers or podcasts.

Right now for my purposes though the clarification of vision/mission is important. Below is a shortened and slightly edited version of David's conclusion that i think form the nucleus of the importnat message.
  • In this time there is a new notions of the basic information skills — literacy,
  • The student future ecconomic activities will be based far more on their inventiveness, than their ability to perform tasks and retain knowledge
  • Children who are adept at technology, but who desperately need us to teach them how to work the information.

I can write about this or talk about it but how do we communicate it in an experiential way to our stakeholders- teachers, parents...other administrators?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Seeking input as we move forward

First, I have to say this is the most exciting thing I have done in a long time! For those of you who have been around for some time now let me remind you about the thrill of seeing comments on your blog or the sheer awe caused by seeing a link to your blog on another site. No wonder this is such a powerful tool.

As I am contemplating the next step in rolling out our plans for fall of 2006 a couple of things strikes me. First, I see a need to get my teachers reading some of these blogs so at the next faculty meeting I think we will visit the computer lab and set up some blogline accounts. Phase two will be the creation of their own blogs because you can not teach what you have not done and of course, I want them to experience the same excitement awe and wonder I have experienced.

The other area I am pondering has to do with communicating with our stakeholders. I have read Nancy’s blog with all of the posts regarding why we blog but now I need to decided what do I need to communicate to my community of parents. Does anyone have any wisdom or insights? When you began blogging in your schools how was this handled? Did you or your administrator meet with the parents or did you just start blogging and then the students shared with their parents? Or????

On the same topic but from a slightly different perspective- What information should I make available for the parents? I do not want to overload them with technical information but I do want them to be informed about what we are doing and why. I am interested in links for articles, power point presentations, podcasts, or other sites that would be suitable to share with them. I think I am going to put a FAQ section on our website with links to relevant information but I need you help to gather the best information. Thank you!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Finding new vision and energy for education through blogs

I am in awe of what a powerful vehicle blogging can be for my own professional growth and development. My thinking has been stretched and I am gaining first hand experience of the power of building communities of learning. Reading through the blogs and moving through the various links the pattern of a rich and deep discussion begins to evolve. Because I am rather new to all of this I have been trying to take the time to read some of the earlier post too.

One recurring discussion is the issue of journaling vs blogging which raises the question what is it all about. It reminds me of the early complaints about computers in the classroom when some employed them as essentially expensive workbooks for drill and practice.

In Will Richardson’s blog there is a pertinent discussion that centers around presentations at the recent CUE conference. Which I have excerpted below:

Referring to CUE
The bad news is that to some extent, I think the conversation misses the point. What got me going was when Hall Davidson said “Blogs are online journals when done right” and then added that it’s “not a format that going to pull anything else out of you” compared to more traditional tools.

Will’s take on blogs-
Blogs are much more than online journals when done right. They offer much more than the traditional tools in terms of giving voice, building community, enhancing learning not just from a writing standpoint.

Peter said that from a teaching standpoint, your colleagues are no longer just the people down the hall. They are teachers in Australia and journalists in Russia and scientists in India. What a very cool, expansive way to start thinking about teaching.
Peter said that from a teaching standpoint, your colleagues are no longer just the people down the hall. They are teachers in Australia and journalists in Russia and scientists in India. What a very cool, expansive way to start thinking about teaching.

I agree whole heartedly with Will and Peter. In just one week of reading and beginning to blog I have experienced the power of collegial connections across the globe. I have experienced the need to take time with information and reflection in order to form an informed opinion. I have seen the difference between my daughters use of My space and the application of blogs in the classroom. This distinction was not immediately obvious to me as a neophyte but I get it now and hope to help others see it. Blogging in the classroom, to my understanding, is about learning to think critically and also learning to express yourself with an audience in mind.

To this end I understand when Clarence posted about his disappointment when his students writing about current events at a factual level and with only one resource. He had to reframe his assignment which leads us to remember that the questions we frame are critical to teaching thinking and to an effective use of blogs in the classroom. If we are serious about building learning communities and opening students to new sources of knowledge we must create an atmosphere of inquiry.

Let me end where I started...blogging has provided me with new hope and energy. As Peter stated so eloquently and as I have experienced this is a wonderful and "expansive way to think about teaching"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Daring to Dream Big

We are on the verge of big changes as we explore avenues to pursue excellence in education. As we seek to reconceive our classrooms, our teaching and our approach to curriculum I invite you to share your thoughts and insights.
Sorting out all the component of moving into full technology integration is overwhelming. Planning for presentations to various stakeholders has my head spining. Different materials are important for different audiences. For the parents , teachers , and potential donors we need to compile the data driven information regarding student achievement. But i also need to address parental concerns in face of all the my space news. How much information is enough and how much is too much?
We also need to choose from the myriad of potential blog sites, look at programs like moodle and find the best of professional development opportunities.....Sometimes it seems like too much..But the dream is also very exciting ...