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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

If you're going to NECC and you are a blogger -- we need you!

I'd like to bring you in on a "little" discussion that we've been having behind the scenes about the potential for an edubloggerCon just prior to the NECC conference in Atlanta in June of 2007.

We're still in the formatory stages and that is why we need YOU to join the discussion. I personally have had enough of things where I had no input and I always felt left out.

Well, if you feel the same way as me, ("I've got something to say and want to be a part of something!") then this is a personal invitation from me to join in the conversation.

Go on over to the Edubloggercon page and join the edubloggercon Google Group or even the wiki. NECC is going to be incredible and this will actually be my first one! I am so excited about meeting some amazing people and coming away with inspiration. I hope you'll introduce yourself (and I hope that some of the proposals I've submitted get accepted.)

Since I went to Georgia Tech and lived just down from the conference center for a few years, hopefully I can steer those of you who want to see things in the right direction. I'll make sure that I give you some pre-conference insight into the area via my blog here.

So, edubloggers, it is time to talk.

But I'm not going!
And if you're NOT going to NECC, I'd love to organize a group who will be "attending" virtually so that you can glean information off of the conference -- there are just so many links, it helps to have outside observers going through the blogs. (Additionally, we could use podcast volunteer editors for those shooting audio interviews at the conference to post them quickly.) Either way, we can and should model effective blogging and collaboration with this process and there is room for everyone!

This is about the students! It is also about connecting and encouraging educators who for too long have been islands.

Please join in! I'd e-mail you each personally if I could...

but Oh, wait, there's this new thing called RSS and I don't have to e-mail you any more!

And there are 500 of you now. So, whose on board?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The decade of the 00's (Oh's)

I've posted this weeks podcast about my thoughts about how this decade will be characterized. We have the 70's, 80's, 90's, and now we have the 00's (pronounced Oh's).

I think that there are three types of people that characterize the OO's in education that I outline in the podcast.

Also, I talk about the Friedman book and its impact on teachers as well as the new flat classroom project that I've been discussing here on the blog.

Length: 5 minutes 54 seconds

About the Podcast

You can now download the cool Cat Teacher podcast from the iTunes store (in ITunes click on I tunes store, PowerSearch, and then type in cool cat teacher). Unless I do an interview, these will be posted two-three times a month and will run around 5 minutes in length.

You may also subscribe over Odeo.

The must read for administrators and leaders who advocate blogging in schools

I believe Stephen Downes has spotted the next big discussion from pundits who want to criticize the emerging social network as outlined in a new Inc. magazine article entitled the Idiocy of Crowds. I believe it is a must read for progressive administrators who advocate these technologies so that you can formulate your response IN ADVANCE.

Stephen's critique:

"This article is getting some traction, but it would have been nice had the author taken the time to comprehend the theory he is criticizing."

The author in this article says:

"As for the Internet and our newfound ability to tap into the masses, a more subtle form of havoc arises. Simply put, when you make it easy for everyone to put in his two cents, with little filtering or accountability, the scum tends to rise to the top...For all the excitement generated by social networking sites like Facebook, how many people are actually making valuable contacts on these sites, compared with the amount of time wasted browsing through the sea of goofy material out there?"

My opinion of his rationale

Balance is vital. A crowd or mob in the traditional sense is a cacophonous chaotic mass of people. However, the crowds as gathering on the internet are a far cry from the "mass" that I believe is alluded to in the article.

Although one cannot rely solely on the crowd to determine what is important (after all the first post has to come from somewhere doesn't it), it serves as an effective road map or pulse of the leaders in fields. It is an effective tool and to ignore what blogs say is to ignore research itself, for indeed best practices research as done in education is truly the aggregation of the results from a multitude of respondents.

I would argue that what we have is by far the greatest potential research tool that has as yet been created! (We need to revisit and work on the proposed Standards for educators from the K12 wiki project -- if you'd like to join, request to join the space and add your thoughts.) As for me, I have created amazing relationships and learned so much from others.

But Accountability is a good point!

Additionally, he does bring up a valuable point... accountability. I do not subscribe to anonymous blogs for that reason. Every person should be accountable. I have several people at my school and in my home town that I have asked to read all of my blogs. It makes me a better blogger and "saves me from myself." If I misstate something (they know me and are good at catching it), then I can quickly rectify it. I think some bloggers should be held accountable and are saying things they will regret when the rest of their peers come on board in several years and catch up on "friend Johnny's blog" only to realize that they've been the butt of his frustration for years.

How would you respond to this argument if someone slapped the article down on your desk?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Classroom is Flat: Teacherpreneurs and the Flat Classroom Project Kickoff

I was chatting with Craig in Greece today and I asked him what flat classrooms mean to him -- he said this:

"No walls."


Today is the kickoff of the Flat Classroom Project

This is on my mind because today was Day 1 of the Flat Classroom collaborative project between Julie Lindsey's classroom in Dhaka, Bangladesh and my computer science classroom in Camilla, Georgia. Our classrooms connected after Julie responded to a blog posting that I created: My Student's Weigh in on Friedman's Flat world. She and I began to discuss what flat, collaborative classrooms truly mean. After seeing some synergies and a common passion for global collaboration, we drafted a plan. We took each it to our local administrators and curriculum directors and received approval for what we are calling our flat classroom project.

Synopsis of Project:

Our students will be paired with each other to create wikis and multimedia resources discussing the educational and industrial implications of the "flatteners" as outlined in Thomas Friedman's book, the World is Flat. The project will be wiki-centric and is designed to require research, information literacy skills, and high level critical thinking.

For me, this is the semester assessment for my students which will count 20% of their grade. (We use major, cumulative, genuine assessment projects in lieu of major exams. All of our tests are supposed to be cumulative and we have found greater retention and learning through the use of such projects, although at first I was skeptical!)

Here is the outline of What Julie and I created on the wiki to get our students started:

Flat Classroom Project Information

Wiki: http://flatclassroomproject.wikispaces.com/
Grading Rubrics: Ms. Lindsey - Bangladesh Ms. Davis - USA
Templates for beginning pages
An Awards Program
My School Information Exchange
Code of Ethics
Resources - For information about "how to" do things

I am blogging daily on the computer science blog for my class to post our progress, entertain questions, and update the students on any intermediate due dates.

Caveats to this project

There is a fine line between information exchange and privacy that we walk daily and in our introductions that we recorded to one another, we've had to complete several edits for my students. We also have time issues so we have exchanged skype ID's. This is truly as asynchronous of a project as it comes! Julie and I communicate each morning and evening because during mid day one of us is usually sleeping (because it is the middle of the night.)

My students have already learned so much about Bangladesh on the first day! They have been discussing what they've learned. Other students are asking if they will get to do this next year! It is very energizing and exciting to see these students from different backgrounds connect.

How your classroom can contribute

Although no other classes are being added to the wiki (at this time) we want our students (and yours) to understand the dynamics of blogging and tagging, so here is what we are doing:

1) Go to the topics page of our wiki.

2) Students may select a topic (each group has a number).
3) When your student blogs about the topic for a particular team, they may tag it as follows:

flatclassroomproject06-01 For information relating to group 1
flatclassroomproject06-02 For information relating to group 2
flatclassroomproject06-03 For information relating to group 3

... and so forth.

If they do not know how to insert a tag, they may do it manually by typing the following information (See information on technorati about tagging your posts.)

The format from Technorati is as follows:

href="http://technorati.com/tag/[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]

So.. a the HTML of a tag to go to the group 1 page would look like this:

href="http://technorati.com/tag/flatclassroomproject06-01" rel="tag">flatclassroomproject06-01

You'll have to type it manually for it to turn out correctly, but I'll include the tags at the bottom of this post and you may copy and paste those.

They may do more than one! All of them should also tag their posts flatclassroomproject06. (You should too if you blog about it!)

4) After writing a blog post, tagging it, and publishing it, they need to "ping" technorati.
Note: The blog must be publicly available for this to work!

a) You can do this manually by copying the URL of their blog posting (On PC, copy the URL in the address box, right click and copy)

b) Then, go to http://www.technorati.com/ping

c) Right click in the box that says "Ping technorati" - and click Paste.

d) Press the button to Ping.

5) Our students are going to add an RSS feed from Technorati for the posts tagged with their specific tags to their individual project pages.

Your students will be able to go back to the wiki and within about an hour see their posts appear on the page. If your students wish to shoot any video or podcasts, they may link to them within their blog posts. Remember to specify the creative commons license holder so that we may cite you as a source in the final product if your interview or opinion is included. Please make them short -- less than 1 minute of video or audio if you wish to "weigh in" on either the educational or industry impact of any of the topics. Please also state your location - city and country. Remember, if you have questions, you may contact me.

Well, hello Mr. Friedman!

In fact, this is how Thomas Friedman must have found Julie's post today about the roll-out of our project. This was the e-mail that she received:

Dear Julie,

I read your blog about the flat world classroom. I was delighted to see it! Tell me how it goes. Yes, this is really Tom Friedman. Allbest, Tom

So, after we scraped ourselves off of our collective blog-ceilings, we went back to work. This is a great project. It is the right thing to do.

Embarking on a journey to the unknown

It has been tough. We've had to invent things from the ground up. This is uncharted territory. Many would not embark out of fear. What will the students do? They age in range from 15-18 year olds. Are we crazy?

Actually, Julie and I have a lot in common, I believe. We both believe the best in our students. And when they fall short, we encourage them to rise to be their best. This is an ambitious project but I believe the first of many for us. (And Julie is just as "sharp as a tack" as we say down here in South Georgia, she makes me look good!)

But perhaps the most exciting thing about this project is that it was initiated by teachers. Two teachers who made a connection via their blogs, found common curricular objectives, created a framework, proposed the methodologies to administrators, and then after visionary administrative approval, move ahead with a project.

This is an upside down topsy-turvy way of doing things that will send shivers down the spine of many an administrator. However, notice that Julie and I both had to secure administrative and curricular approval. We are under our authority and are not renegades. What we are is connectors.

I heard Will Richardson two weeks a go at a conference say something like this:

"Teachers are no longer just content deliverers but are connectors."

This is the emerging role of teachers. Teachers as connectors. Teachers as those who relay and share ideas and best practices via their blogs as part of their professional expectations. Teachers who read their aggregators and participate in projects with other teachers around the world.

The birth of the teacherpreneur

Since I am a businesswoman - I guess I'll call them teacherpreneurs for lack of a better term.

I define these people as the teachers who see opportunity to make profitable learning experiences for students through their partnership with other classrooms with common curricular goals and expectations.

These are teachers who dare to innovate. They understand the best practices of teaching well enough to be entrusted to continue with high standards of achievement and learning while utilizing new conduits of information conversion into knowledge. (David Warlick blogged about this today.)

It does not matter the size of your organization -- I believe that teacherpreneurs have been around for a long time. They are the people that movies are made about. They get "in trouble" with their renegade practices until people realize that they work. Then, they leave teaching and write books, and make movies. We need more of them!

It is time for the mass production not of industrial robotic line workers but of teacherpreneurs. For I believe that if this attitude is promoted in the classroom under proper authority and best practices, that teachers can truly become connectors and breed a new generation of global collaborators and big picture thinkers like we've never seen before.

What do you think?

Note: If your students need to copy some of the appropriate tags, they may copy these listed below and paste into their blog!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Five steps to turn a tough day around (How to beat the Holiday Blues!)

The holidays are full of excitement and sadness. As we get older, we appreciate the moments, but we also think of the past. My husband just turned forty and just preceding that his father died. His mother died when he was 26.

As I looked around at my large family of 65+ -- I thought of the many people who weren't there. My grandfather and grandmother. My other grandmother has dementia and can no longer walk much less make her famous dressing.

And as I look at Monday, I just feel like staying in bed and pulling the covers over my head and having a good cry. I know that five thousand things will come barreling at my head like barbed projectiles from those who have no idea how difficult some of the things they ask are. Students may not want to be there and I'm going to have to be UP!

So, my husband and I had an extended discussion of how we will tackle tomorrow and turn what could be a tough day to a better one. (Besides that my football team, Georgia Tech lost to our archrival Georgia and I can count on the 75 % of our school who are Georgia fans to really "rub it in.")

How to turn a tough day into a terrific one!

1 - Start Right

If I think of the best days of my life, all of them started right. For me, that means that I get up early and start by reading my Bible, praying, and if I don't have time for a full workout - at least situps and pushups. That gets me going.

Then, I put on something that will make me happy (like my cute Christmas sweater). I put on my makeup and do my best to look great. I find that if I dress nicely and look nicely, my mood often elevates.

I love a good cup of coffee so I will treat myself to a good cup. I also will fix a good breakfast for my kids because that makes me feel good about myself. I will do my best to keep my voice quiet and keep myself calm.

2 - Put worst things first

This is from my practical, engineer of a husband. He says that he makes a list of the top 5 things he needs to do, no more. Then, he tackles the worst one first. At least he knows that he's got the worst thing out of the way and somehow the sense of overcoming that one thing elevates his mood the rest of the day. I am doing this tomorrow. (And leaving the other 40+ things on another list!)

3 - Make a list

When I best handle those "projectiles" from those who've procrastinated asking me about things, I keep a weekly list. I will add their items to my list. I go over my list with the appopriate folks and let them prioritize. I'm a classroom teacher first. Just getting things off of my mind and onto my list is great. Letting admin handle the headaches of prioritizing is also a help. I simply cannot do it all. (I teach full time and maintain 100 computers and a network!)

4 - Focus on others

I find that when I'm down, that the easiest way to get back up is NOT to think of me, myself, and I. Selfishness, pride, and ego are ingredients for misery. The world is full of disgruntled people who do not think they are getting their fair shake.

Well, guess what? Life isn't fair and work is hard. Sometimes we don't want to go to work, but we get up and go any way. And when we get there, if we look and find a person who needs us and we help them, even if it is a little thing, we feel better.

Bill Cosby's Mom was wise. He was in a philosophy class and they were debating whether the glass was half full or half empty. He went home to impress his mom with his new philosophical knowledge and posed this question to her. Her answer:

"It depends on whether you are pouring or drinking."

See, she knew that it is by pouring yourself into others that you are refilled. It is by sharing with others that you grow and become more yourself. It is when you selfishly drink of everything and demand that you have only the best that others refuse to come and fill your glass. The selfish have a lot to learn for true happiness is in giving to others.

5 - Keep the main thing the main thing

I heard somewhere the importance of "keeping the main thing the main thing." That is wise. We all have 24 hours, no more and no less. We must prioritize our family, our spiritual lives, our physical health, and yes, even our sleep so that we can live a balanced and good life. Work will always be there.

Work is important. But it will be there in the morning. One day you'll wake up and your kids will live half a continent away and your parents will no longer be a phone call away. If you have trouble getting your priorities straight, you should see the movie Click with Adam Sandler. It is a funny movie (but not for kids) with a point that echoes with me daily, "Family is the most important thing."

We need reminders of such.

In conclusion

So, in order to fight my own struggles with not wanting to emerge from my cocoon of fleece and cotton tomorrow morning, I am focusing on you by trying to give you some encouragement. I hope that by encouraging you, that I can encourage myself and you know what, it has worked. I am already feeling better about tomorrow.

Holidays do not always mean happiness

Those of us who are always happy during the holidays need to remember that it is a tough time for people who have lost loved ones. We love our families and the separation of death, albeit temporary according to my beliefs, is a very real and difficult thing to bear.

Get ready for tomorrow!

So, start right, put worst things first, make a list, focus on others, and keep the main thing the main thing and perhaps that will help you if you're having a rough time.

What do you do on such days? I could use your encouragement too!

Friday, November 24, 2006

I am Thankful for these Websites!

a simulpost with the TechLearning blog.
Note: I don't usually post the same thing in both places, however, I've spent three days on this post and want my readers to have a copy! This is my Thanksgiving Present to You!

As I sit with my morning coffee stuffed bigger than yesterday's unfortunate aviary creature, I have been spending a day being thankful. Today, that mood carries forward as I am thankful for my "birth" into this new blogosphere and thing we call "Web 2.0." I think it is important that I share with you the websites that I am the most thankful for. I've also asked some of my friends on the blogosphere about their favorite websites as well.

(If you'd like to take a "virtual" tour, I've made a trackstar page with annotations so you can click and read. Trackstar is a great tool from 4teachers.)

1 - Wikispaces

I teach in a wiki-centric classroom. Wikispaces gives free online accounts. If you want to learn more about how I use wikispaces, you may view the presentation video and papers that I published at the K12 online conference. There are other free wiki tools that educators are using. For now, I find this to be the easiest ways to link together the many digital artifacts created by my students.

2 - Google and their Suite of Services

Google has changed my life and my classroom. Now I can subscribe to Google Searches of News, Blogs, Maps, Financial Information, Scholarly Works, and even the sales for Christmas.

Gmail, the free google e-mail service allows me to e-mail usually large files and has some handy plug ins like Google Talk which allows me to chat with others via google (and leave them voice mails.) It also has a spam filter that can't be beat! I love the fact that I can search through all of my old e-mails and archive instead of deleting them so they remain searchable. And it is FAST! I use it with the Google deskbar and GoogleTalk as well as GoogleDocs. And where would I be without Blogger? It is so closely integrated with Google search that my Cool Cat Teacher blog is easily found! (If you blog and cannot be found, you don't exist!)

Google Video is the best source of educational video I've found because most college lectures are downloaded here. (Youtube only gives 10 minutes of time per video.)

There are so many things you can do via Google it is unreal! You can see all of them at Google Help.

3 - Odeo

I publish my podcast here because it is so EASY! My students use it to record podcasts because you can record the podcasts directly into Odeo without having to create, upload, and go through the entire process of typical podcasting. It is very easy and I like it. You can also upload files that you create in audacity.

Remember, this is a place to use but not necessarily surf with your students. I have them bookmark their podcast and go directly there! You can also post your Odeo podcast to the ITunes Store. (Again if you have a podcast and aren't listed in ITunes you don't really exist because no one can find you. I'll tell you how to do this on my blog in the next several days.)

4 - Airset

This is my new favorite calendar. Although we use rsscalendar for our school website, I've moved to Airset for managing all of my family activities and will be migrating the school to it over the summer.

There are a couple of reasons:
  • Airset lets me synch with my Palm and Outlook
  • Airset has RSS feeds which allow me to set my children's start up Google Page (a nonthreatening RSS reader) to show their calendar for the day and week.
  • Airset lets me manage groups - my personal calendar, family calendar, school and church groups that I work with.
  • Airset will send cell phone text reminders and reminders via e-mail to group members! This saves me a lot of time.

My husband says that it reminds him a lot of sharepoint server that he uses at work. It is a great tool for busy Moms and teachers. My students have created group calendars to put their tests and homework reminders. They update it together and have it text message them their homework as created by the group at the end of school. (I taught a government agency about this site over the summer and they automated their whole office, they said it saved them the $2000 they were about to spend on software.)

I've written an article on using Airset at my blog.

5 - Feedburner

Feedburner is a must use for any serious blogger or manager of a school website. Here is why:

  • You can "burn" your feed from your blog. You can then have Feedburner create HTML code and paste it on your website. Now, at my school, the school secretary posts to her blog and it updates on the home page. The counselor has a blog that "feeds" into her counselor web page. (See my article: Save Time Webmaster)
  • You can then use Feedblitz to e-mail your blog posts to anyone who is "afraid" of RSS. People can subscribe to your school news or counselor's update, etc. (Feedblitz can be activated within Feedburner.)
  • Feedburner has so many other features that serious bloggers will appreciate.

6 - Statcounter

Although I am toying with the idea of switching to Google Analytics for my burgeoning blog, right now statcounter does the trick for me. I can see where visitors are coming from, what websites link to me, how many visitors a day, and even a map with their location. (I describe how to use it in my most Popular Post: Ten Habits of Bloggers that Win.) This is a great tool to use in classrooms to provide feedback and awareness to your students of the global audience of their work.

7 - Technorati

Love it or hate it, technorati is really the place that most bloggers use to keep up with those linking to their blog and talking about their subjects.
  • I use their watchlist service to watch references to my name (some people don't hyperlink which is just plain rude!)
  • I use their search to see who is linking to my Cool Cat Teacher blog so I can respond as appropriate.
  • I can look at my ranking, but some advice from someone who moves up and down continually - don't get overly hung up on the ranking. It depends on how many link to you AND know how to ping technorati. Bloggers must blog because they want to join in the conversation because popularity is a moving target.
Note: I don't take students to Technorati unless I have a specific purpose. It is a great tool for professionals and college level students but NOT for casual browsing by high school students.

8 - EdTechTalk

EdTechTalk from Worldbridges is a new website in my life. It is chock full of great educational listens and I always tune into their stream while I am grading! It helps the time go faster and keeps me up on my learning. (They are also the sponsor of the weekly WOW2 broadcast on at 9pm EST where I co-host on Tuesdays!)

I believe EdTechTalk should be a must include as a part of any educator's Personal Learning Network. (PLN)

9 - Classblogmeister

Classblogmeister is a great free tool that I use for my weekly questions of the week. As part of the effort to integrate writing into my content and practice, I post a question of the week here for students to answer on their blog. I do pre-approve all posts and comments but it allows me to give feedback prior to posting.

There is no problem with students remember to look, because I use the RSS feed from this page on the homepage of my wiki. Students check the wiki to see if there is a new question of the week.

10 - Bloglines

Bloglines remains my perennial favorite for reading RSS. My students use Netvibes. Superbloggers David Warlick and Will Richardson use RSS- and Blog-friendly web browser, Flock. I've tried Google Reader, but I still come back to bloglines.

You can see what I'm reading at: http://www.bloglines.com/public/coolcatteacher

11 - Gliffy -

This incredibly easy to use drawing tool is great for creating organizational charts, flow charts, and for arranging furniture. My students convinced their spanish teacher to let them use gliffy for a genuine assessment project where they had to lay out their dream home in gliffy and label every item with its correct spanish name.

Network administrators will find it easy for laying out network schematics. I used it to lay out my new computer lab over the summer.

12- Creative Commons Searching

I use Flickr to feed the photos onto my school home page. Other educators like Bubbleshare for searching photos. I've also used Photobucket for photos that I use as graphics on my blog.

I use Google Image Search which lets me find images. But by far the coolest, most useful innovation this year is the Creative commons searching capability that lets me search free and usable audio, pictures, video, text, software, and YES -- now Lesson plans, textbooks, and other educational materials using the creative commons licensing phenomenon of originator Lawrence Lessig.

If you are teaching intellectual property, you must include creative commons licensing! This is a must use resource for bloggers and podcasters alike!

13 - PowerSchool

Our school implemented PowerSchool ASP version this year. They maintain our server along with the upgrades in California. We use it to manage attendance, gradebooks, etc. and will be giving parent access in January. Along with ExamView Pro Test Center this helps me greatly.

I believe that before students go to college that they should understand how to:
  • Check and manage grades online.
  • Communicate with instructors online including turning in electronic work.
  • Take tests and assessments online
  • Submit electronic data online to their professor an confirm its receipt.
  • Take classes online. (In Georgia, we use the Georgia Virtual High School to supplement our schools.)
  • Enroll in classes online.
Kids without exposure to these techniques often discount the importance of electronic interaction with their school and professors to their dire harm!

14 - Skype

I am an advocate of using skype in the classroom. (I've created a training video and blog posting on this topic.)

It also helps me communicate with educators around the world, listen in on amazing skypecasts, and communicate with my students when they need me. I use skype at least 5 times a day.

I also love that I can call my sister for free in Orlando. I often take my laptop and set it on my counter and use it like a "speakerphone" on my wireless network as I talk to her. Video skype is great because I can see her too!

I heard Will Richardson talk last week about how teachers are no longer Content Deliverers but rather Connectors. Skype allows me to connect my classroom with other educators with common curricula and objectives.

15 - NewsMap

Newsmap is how I read the news. This incredible graphic organizer of up to the minute news is a great tool for social studies, cultural literacy, current events, and debate preparation.

It aggregates the most recent postings from Google news to show you by size (larger means more coverage) and color (brighter means more recent information has been posted) (colors are separated by topic) to give you the news literally at a glance.

This is a powerful way that I stay on the cutting edge as I blog, teach, and research for conference presentations and in service training. I cannot believe that Google has not copied this idea, but until then, I watch newsmap daily!

Links from other educators

I encourage you to write about the websites you are most thankful for. This is for two reasons:
#1 We so often forget that so many beginning edubloggers are emerging this time of year at the conferences and we assume that they all have the same knowledge base. How can they know unless we tell them?
#2 These services are free. I feel that it is the least I can do to talk about the services I love. For in promoting the services we like, we in essence fund their continuing existence and credibility.

I asked several people I admire in the edublogosphere to give me their favorite links -- here they are:

David Warlick

Web 2.0 Education Leader
http://hitchhikr.com (that's mine)
http://citationmachine.net/ (that's mine too -- but I use it all the time)

Jennifer Wagner,

TechnoSpud Projects

Chris Harbeck, Canadia Educator


Jeff Cooper
TappedIn HelpDesk Extraordinaire (and the person who gave me the idea to use trackstar.)
http://snurl.com/collaboration - for his hyperlinks including info on TappedIn, another new place I really like!

What are yours?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tuesday Night discussion of Technology Standards - What does it mean to be literate

Tune in tomorrow night at worldbridges.net for our interview with Patsy Lanclos.

Patsy was chairman of the Texas Technology Standards that set up the standards for the State of Texas for technology literacy. She will be the guest on the Women of Web 2.0 EdTechTalk tomorrow night -- The Wow2 podcast is at http://worldbridges.net/ or http://edtechtalk.com/

You should go to EdTechTalk and sign in the chat room and you can either go to http://skypecasts.skype.com and search for our skypecast (Search for Women of Web 2) or listen in at Worldbridges.net (usually we are channel 1).

We look in the chat room to take questions for the speaker.

We will be discussing -- What does it mean to be technically literate? How should we as educators respond?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How Terrorist will Target US citizens with passports and more technology that will affect your future and that of your classroom.

powered by ODEO

This is the great interview that I promised you yesterday. It is an amazing interview with Patrick Crispen from California State University.

He discusses some things that I didn't know including information about HDTV, IPTV, RFID Tags in passports. Learn some fascinating things like the protocol that you must have in HDTV or you are wasting your money or why you should steer clear of bluRay. Also how the computers in schools will turn into closed circuit TV's and many fascinating facts. Recorded in November of 2006 at the Georgia Association of Educators Technology Conference.

If you're planning on buying a HDTV TV, you'd better listen to this or you will be wasting your money! This was a fascinating interview! My students will be listening to this!

Message to my students from the technology conference

I have recorded a message to my students that they will be listening to tomorrow and blogging about. It is 18 minutes and includes my top 8 take away items from the conference, what I think they will have to do to compete in the future, and how they can help enact change at our school.

It is a glimpse into the heart of a person who loves teaching, loves her students, and genuinely knows that students want to learn and teachers want to teach.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Anne and my Wiki Workshop Yesterday

Anne Davis posted about her participation the wiki workshop yesterday. Her presence was both inspiring and humbling. I was excited to hear how much of her research validates my classroom observations about collaborative, cooperative technologies.

I'm thankful that she took away some things to apply.

Things to come from GAETC - Mind Blowers!

I have two other amazing podcasts to share with you, but I've been blogging and editing now for three hours and I've got to get some sleep.

Just as a preview -- I (Jennifer Wagner and Sharon Peters) interviewed Patrick Crispen and have thirty minutes of absolutely must hear podcast if you are a purchaser or decision maker -- or just if you're shopping for an HDTV for Christmas. If you carry a passport, you'll learn how it may make you a target for terrorists. It is a mind blowing, incredible interview that my students WILL be listening to.

Then another mind blower with Tonya Witherspoon. She is a member of the National Writing project and did an amazing interview about the MEASURABLE improvement in writing that they are seeing by involving audio MP3 recorders in the writing curriculum. She also talks about some amazing think tank work going on with Second Life.

I also hope to talk to Will Richardson tomorrow but I know EVERYONE will want to talk to him.

It has been an amazing conference. The organizers are doing an outstanding job! I am just so impressed! (Again)

Goodnight from GAETC.

Mabry Middle School: How a school created their own Oscars and everybody got the award of better learning.

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What a great session I had with Dr. Tim Tyson!

He is a middle school principal at Mabry Middle School. Sharon Peters and I interviewed him after the session. Here are a couple of points from the podcast.
  • He has a blogging experience set up with schools in Japan.
  • To set up his projects, he works with other schools and finds them directly. (Flat classroom! Yet another reason principals should blog -- opportunity for students!)
  • They use carts of computers and has more demand than resources.
  • He discusses the amazing impact on learning. He sees a lot of pride now.
  • He says that the research is showing that the difference between "stand and deliver" teaching and project based learning is that students remember the information for a much longer period of time.
  • They have an Oscars program.
  • He has a one day training for parents, students, and teachers. Didn't just train teachers because when students are trained too, teachers can focus on content "not just what button to push" the kids know that!sh
  • (They are kicking off this year's project in two weeks -- if you're in Atlanta, you should contact him to see if you could go!)
As I heard him speak I couldn't help but thinking, "You reap what you sow." He set up their website. When they cut technology administration he took a hands on role in that. He is connected to his students because he has moved outside his comfort zone into their world.

Throughout his session my students back in Camilla were skyping me about questions and their classwork. It connects me. I am closer to them. I am their teacher circled around the virtual tree all of the time. It is rewarding to see their excitement and enthusiasm (and the fact that I could coach them through the problem and prevent substitute-induced procrastination!)

The Awards won by Mabry Middle:

"This is the first and only Level 6 Technology Implementation I've seen in the country. This is the highest level of educational technology integration in the nation."
--Dr. Moersch, principal investigator and creator of the internationally-recognized LoTi (Level of Technology Implementation) Project, and Director and Co-Founder of the National Business Education Alliance

"A national treasure"
--Leslie Connery, Deputy CEO and Conference Chair for ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)

"This is as good as anything I've ever seen."
--Patrice Weaver, Operations Manager for GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

"The Pied Piper of Educational Technology"
--Kathy Ishizuka, The School Library Journal

Schools of Distinction Award for Technology Innovation
Scholastic and Intel Corporation
I asked if he was presenting at NECC. He has never been and did not submit to present. He is the type of person that should be RECRUITED to speak. Administrators need to meet this man. It is essential and vital!

My notes from the session

Here are my notes from this great session with Dr. Tyson. (In original form):

Mabryonline.org & itunes – Over 1.5 million files served up a month

He has had contacts from New Delhi, Tasmania, Beijing, Perth, Hong Kong, Republic of Georgia, Canada – They have seen his kids work on the Internet and come to see what they are doing!

The concept of childhood is rather new. We underestimate our children because of childhood.

What is on their minds?
He asked "What do you want to say on the Internet?
They did a movie on human embryonic stem cell research – 7th graders. They landed an interview with Dr. Chatea – two hours in the lab. She presented to them the presentations that she does internationally. They produced an amazing video! (Videos located at http://mabryonline.org/archives/2006/04/2006_film_festi.html)

They shot hours of footage and have to cut down to 2 minutes long. They have to come down and the process to do that was amazing. It required an incredible amount of synthesizing and critical thinking.

It is hard to make it only 2 minutes long. Another team wanted to make a movie on the commercialization of pure drinking water – 12 year olds.

Child slave labor on the ivory coast of Africa that supports the chocolate industry. Child slave labor. They cut great videos. Judges – program director for Georgia Public Broadcasting. AS good as anything she had ever put on the air.

Caring for mentally handicapped. Every time he shows people cry.
Other topics: – child abuse – captivity of elephants. Inspiring people to achieve against all odds.

Some ideas come from their movies. You can go online and watch the movies. The topics are amazing and the quality is amazing.

It is not about technology and connectivity but the subject matter.

Viewed stem cell video.

They decided not to take sides. They split the screen one side and then the other side – they split the screen. Amazing.

6th grade movie on chocolate
The Dark Side of Chocolate. – 6th graders – Amazing – WOW!
Look for Free Trade Chocolate. WOW!
Eleven year olds.

They love doing this b/c it gave them to have the opportunity in their brain that no one could see to share with others around the world.

It is not about technology but connectivity.

Children crave project driven learning experiences to correlate what they learn in school and what they live in their day-to-day lives.

Kids see their future and what school is doing as divergent. Kids want to connect to what they believe is meaningful to their futures.

History of their world – things that didn’t exist.

He said educators need to jump on RSS.

Meaningfulness is the product of connectedness, of sharing, of contribution.

Believes that we best prepare students for their futures by empowering them to make meaningful an dsignifcant contributions to their present.

Not when you graduate you will thank me for this -- you will thank me for this NOW!

Every teacher has a blog and is required to have a blog. The teachers love their blogs. It invites parents to participate in the classroom.

People want to go to their school!

iInspire: Interview with Amazing Students creating videos from Miller Grove High School

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I was perusing the exhibition hall when suddenly a group of students had my rapt attention. These were four polished, intelligent, well spoken students from Miller Grove High School displaying their professional-looking self made videos. Their teacher, Brenda Neely, with a military and business background, glowed as she discussed how they work nights, weekends, mornings, summer, winter, and fall breaks. Her students have a purpose.

Her award winning video profiled some amazing women including Atlanta's Monica Kaufman. I only saw a snippet but it was enough to make me cry.

Doors are opening to these students with video cameras in their hands and bits and bytes on their brain. And they are busting down the doors of the schoolhouse in order to do their often self assigned "work." Although they have a class and a club -- their motto is "The video club is not a club, it is a business."

Listen to their excitement! You'll have to hear it to believe it!

I do want to apologize that my digital recorder on my Palm "hiccupped" and I lost a portion of the clip but most of this 6 minute interview is preserved.

I predict that Video is going to be THE tool for engagement in the next two years. It is going to completely transform education!

Although they have a specific Video class, I heard other presenters talk about how digital storytelling is transforming writing and every subject that it touches. It is increasing retention and learning as its filmstrip wipes across the brow of small children. If you want engagement -- put a video camera in their hands.

Hilarious quotes about the current state of education

I am learning a lot at GAETC this year. I am sharing with you my conference experience as I see it. I am not researching the breadth of which vendor is the best nor do I wish to start flame wars -- these are my observations and I look forward to hearing your input or suggestions for other ways to do things.

I've been going through the conference with my digital recorder, notebook and laptop and boy have I been learning a lot.

Rather than do a massive post, I'm going to separate my posts into topics so that you may share them in a topic focused way.

I've also created a podcast channel over at Odeo that I will use for these and all future podcasts - the feed is on the left side of my blog and can also be found at this feed: http://odeo.com/channel/80086/rss.xml

Technology will become the backbone of Georgia performance standards

We heard from Stuart Bennett - Chief Deputy Superintendent of Schools, Georgia Department of Education

"Technology will become the backbone of Georgia performance standards. Supt. Cox plans to get behind technology in a big way.

Strong budget support and personal technology learning support. We can expect that."

That is great! I hope that educators will be wary and remember that politics swings like a pendulum. This pendulum may swing in favor of technology for a while, but it always swings back! So, spend it wisely on technology that is going to last at least 5-6 years. One year subscriptions can kill your money situation for the future.

The Keynote: Hilarious Learning

The keynote was actually a group of people called Wavelength. It was Hilarious! The title was "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to NCLB." It made so many great points. Here are some rough "take away" thoughts that I got from the keynote. It was so funny!

Funny Take Away Quotes from Wavelength

I have learned from 7 years of teaching that I can sleep anywhere.

I want eLearning - I want to teach from hom in my pajamas.

If we want to be treated like professionals we should act like professionals. Hands business cards. (Now it seems I was just missing a card.)

Some of us are way beyond the basics here [on technology]-- "Yeah, we've almost caught up with the kids."

Everybody tells us how to do their job, but do they want to do it? No.

Education through the ages

"Everyone is concerned about the recent violence in Sparta. All slingshots should be checked at the porticos and all off duty gladiators should go through the hallways during off duty hours. The deities belong at home."

Music before the age of 10 opens childrens minds to more logical, critical, or creative thinking.

An abacus in every classroom. Advocate an abacus for every student. Who can we appoint - whose not here? Meticulous and Ridiculous are not here -- they are on the committee.

Leave no plebian behind. Must do well on the Athenean tests. All students learn differently. We cannot spend all of time taking tests. Do we want to create test takers or lifetime learners?

Her daughter fallopia was harrassed on the bocce court by his son testosterone. NGA - National Gladiators Association.

Uniform togas, two students per pedagog? LSL - Latin as a Second Language - Should we be bending over backwards to cater to these Greek kids?

If I only had 6 months to live - I'd spend it all with my fifth period -- that rowdy class? Yes, then, it would seem like the longest 6 years of my life.

Dr. Phil imitation talking about Nclb

New legislation has politicians and educators driven more crazy than gnats in a yo yo.

Succinct government -- oxymoron.

You went from zero to psycho in 3.2 seconds!

Personal, Social, Vocational, Academic - NCLB only focuses on academic (our education system was founded on all four.)

A tested person is not necessarily an educated person. Take everything out because it is not on the test.

Pour yourself a big cup of calm down! Did you just full out of the dumb tree and hit every branch on the way down?

Don't be so technologically focused that you lose connection with kids.

Zena Warrior Princess Skit

Kicking the horsehockey of a math teacher who thinks he's being effective using math handouts and dry boring lectures.

The three tenures sang-- we'll always have jobs we can't be fired.

Remember why you got into teaching so you are capable of handling yourself well in battle!

Jessie Jackson imitation

A law to improve education may help politicians save face but a mandate without funding is a national disgrace.

It is the DOE not the DOA.

We should not let it become the tech have and tech nots. We must not have cyber segregation or we'll go back on the progress we've made.

You've got to teach a brand new way!

My take away is that humor does have a place if it is professional and well done. I loved the Jessie Jackson imitation. It was enough to make you get up and yell! I was so stunned with the message they were able to get across and the ensuing inspiration!

I took a moment to interview them in the following audio file. I've also uploaded this to my new podcast so if you subscribe to that, you can get all of the feeds that I'm sending through tonight!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do you know someone stuck in web 1.9, blurk, and other odd terms.

We had a great edTechTalk tonight as we talked about why teachers should blog. (We also had an interesting post show talking about second life.)

We laughed at some of the new terms coined recently. (Whether by us or others, we don't really know.) I'd like to share them with you.

Blurk - To lurk on a blog and never comments.

Stuck in Web 1.9 - Someone who denies the evolution of the Internet to the read/write web.

Drive by Commenter - A person who doesn't read your blog but drives by, leaves a long tirading message, and never returns. (I did coin this phrase.)

Virtual Tattoo - What students are unknowingly making. Colleges are beginning to search myspace and screen applicants based upon their online profiles.

Like Alaska was the first frontier and Space is the final frontier -- Jason named the Internet the virtual frontier.

We also discussed some neat things including www.yackpack.com, www.bubbleshare.com (Jen says it is the ONLY place to share photos with kids and much better than flickr), and www.webhuddle.com. Cheryl also told me what a webhead is and that they meet on Sundays at tapped in.

Notes on Second Life

I also learned that if you go into Second Life, that you should never go alone. My sister went in alone and was virtually accosted online. We are discussing the possibility of a big group "being born" into second life together and taking a tour. We are looking for a group who would like to usher us into Second life at a certain time and perhaps give us a tour. I'm still floored by the whole thought of it.

So, what interesting terms have you heard on the new internet?

When you meet the faces behind the blogs: GAETC

Today I taught a great workshop with many amazing teachers. They were so impressive and did an incredible job in a relatively short amount of time. I think I had the cream of the crop in my class! They were great!

Meeting the faces behind the inspiration!

I am so excited, I've gotten to meet the people behind several of my favorite blogs.

I met Anne Davis who is an amazing professor at Georgia State who also does work in elementary classes each week. She is so grounded in the reality of teaching and also has a great grasp on research. She is a borne encourager and I see why she is such a great teacher!

I met Sharon Peters from Canada a WOW2 friend who also took the class. She and I got very good and lost on the back roads around the airport tonight.

Jennifer Wagner saved the day and even helped me as we explored web 2.0 as part of our team collaborative projects. (And she taught this morning and tonight until 9 pm. What a woman! She is so knowledgeable!)

I met Stephen Rahn from Stephen's Untold Stories -- he digs out the most random bits from the Internet and I always find them useful. (Ah, I see on his blog that he ate dinner with Patrick Crispen, so that is where he disappeared to. He really helped me get my room set up! Thank you Stephen!)

Now, for tomorrow through Friday -- guess who I get to hear!

Will Richardson, Andy Carvin, Brent Williams, Patrick Crispen, Leslie Fisher, and Tonya Witherspoon. I've heard great things about each of them.

Find the great teachers

My strategy for these conferences is to meet certain objectives, however, I am one of those people that can learn software from a book. I go for the inspiration. The people! I don't even care what they are talking about. If you find a person who is inspirational, they can talk about dirt and you'll come away being inspired.

In fact, Thomas Friedman's book makes that very point: find a great teacher and take their class, no matter what they are teaching. Because inspirational teachers make one excited, curious, and inspired to learn. That spills over into life!

Last year, GAETC changed my life. I wonder what will happen this year? I'll keep you posted. I'll be roaming with my laptop and digital recorder and will be blogging about the inspiration that I want to share with you.

Why Should Teachers Blog

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for our weekly EdTechTalk with Sharon, Cheryl, and Jen. I hope to see you there -- We'll be at worldbridges and on skype at

We're planning on discussing why teachers should blog.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Edublog Awards 2006 - Due November 30

The Edublog Awards are open until November 30th. Get out there and nominate your favorites by e-mailing up to two nominations (total) per category:

"This year there are ten categories:

  • Best audio and/or visual blog
  • Best group blog
  • Best individual blog
  • Most influential post, resource or presentation
  • Best library/librarian blog
  • Best newcomer
  • Best research paper on social software within learning and teaching
  • Best teacher blog
  • Best undergraduate blog
  • Best wiki use


Again, nominations are made confidentially. Please email in your nominations to the awards address: 2006awards@googlemail.com

Only current edubloggers are invited to nominate contenders. If you post publicly, and produce some content related to education, you are recognized as an edublogger for the purposes of this competition and are eligible to nominate. Please include your blog url with your nominations.

Each participant is able to make a maximum of two nominations per category. Self-nomination is perfectly acceptable, but you are encouraged to nominate the blogs, projects and papers that you genuinely believe to be outstanding examples of practice. Please list your nominations in order of preference. You may enter the same person or site for more than one award."

So, copy and paste into your e-mail and nominate the best! (This is exciting, I started blogging on December 3rd of last year as the voting opened up so, I'm glad that I can nominate people this year and that I even know what a blog is!)

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