I've moved the blog!

I've moved my blog to www.coolcatteacher.com as well as all of the posts from this blog. Learn more...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Do you know a totally wired teacher?

From the Classroom 2.0 Ning today:

FromWill Richardson (www.Weblogg-ed.com) today. Seems like a great way for Classroom 2.0 members to nominate each other!


This request comes from Jim Daly of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, though the award is being co-sponsored by Yahoo! Teachers:

The 2007 Mashup “Totally Wired Teacher Award” will honor a trailblazing teacher who has successfully pioneered the innovative and educational use of social media (blogs, wikis, social networking, photo/video sharing) in the classroom. The award-winner likely had to overcome challenges from parents and administrators in order to use the technology, but because they understand how students use social media outside of school, they persevered with their initiative and worked collaboratively with students, ultimately sharing their insight and knowledge with the larger teaching community.

If you have anyone in mind, send their names, titles, etc. and a paragraph or two as to why they are deserving to jdaly@edutopia.org. The sooner the better. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Announcing: Microsoft Surface

If you have luddites who aren't comfortable with the computer in your school, hold on.

Computers are coming to your tables, walls, filing cabinets, doors, and oh my goodness, perhaps even that flat surface on the student desk.

At the everything D conference that I blogged about yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will announce Microsoft Surface. The article says:

" [Surface is] the first in the company’s new category of surface-computing products that it has touted as “breaking down traditional barriers between people and technology.” Surface has a 30-inch display in a table-like format that can recognize physical objects. It allows, according to Microsoft, “hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. … through natural gestures, touch and physical objects.”

Surface can also recognize objects embedded with identification tags similar to bar codes....Surface, as Microsoft sums it up, brings an “opportunity to create technology that would bridge the physical and virtual worlds.”

Devices will roll out the end of this year!

The applications here for education are incredible! How about a word wall that changes depending on the class that is in your room. Think about the manipulatives potentials -- use them but NO clean up -- just a little Windex and wipe off the fingerprints!

This is only the beginning. The revolution is here.

I've often told my students that they will look back and laugh about taking a "computer" class one day because they will become a commodity and a part of EVERYTHING. Man and machine continue to blur and bring with them a whole plethora of ethical and though provoking issues (I'm a little survivalist in nature.)

Make them share pencils!?

This doesn't mean that technology isn't important, it means that it is more important than ever. Limiting access to computers is almost like making kids share pencils -- we wouldn't dream of it.

It is not about being comfortable it is about doing the right thing. I'm sure those men who landed on the moon were not comfortable in their space suits either. This is not a place of comfort but a wonderful place where even a person in smalltown Georgia can contribute to the discussion!

OK, here is your question -- HOW CAN SUCH A SURFACE PROGRAM BE USED IN SCHOOLS? Leave a comment here!

tag: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What does your network look like

Christy Tucker has a fascinating analysis of her delicious network, she says:

In this screenshot, Vicki Davis (brightideasguru) is at the top, Wes Fryer (wfryer) is in the lower left, and Will Richardson (willrich) is in the lower right. My network (christyinsdesign) is in the center with the colored lines. Looking at this image, I can see that Wes and Will have several people in common, but Vicki only has one network connection shared with Wes and none in common with Will. I was a little surprised by that; I would have expected a bit more overlap there.

Perhaps there is not as much overlap as we might think!

Just go to Delicious network explorer and type in your username. This is a great answer to the conspiracy theorists as it explores the network in a fascinating way. The graphic did not come out very well but it shows that David Jakes and ChristyInsDesign are very innerconnected -- Hey Jude has some connections with Christy and Danita Russell and I share a few common people with edtechtalk.

This is just a cool place to explore and visualize the networks!

tag: , , , ,

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs appearing TOGETHER on Wednesday, May 30th

I'm trying to find the live stream for this (if there is one) but Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are appearing live together tomorrow at the D: All Thing Digital Conference put on by the Wall Street journal.

For live updates check out the blog at http://allthingsd.com/

I did a little digging and if you're quick, you can share the questions YOU want to ask at http://kara.allthingsd.com/20070523/questions-for-bill-and-steves-excellent-adventure/.

Join in! I am posting my question as we speak. Let's innundate them with questions from educators!

Come over to talk about Training Teachers at EdTechTalk with Pam Shoemaker

Pam Shoemaker is on edtechtalk.com tonight as we talk about training teachers.

Here is the tentative agenda, and as always we will expand this and discuss!

Order of the Evening:
WOW2 Moments --
Cheryl, Sharon, Vicki, Jen

Pam Shoemaker --
Pam's Blog: http://shoemap.edublogs.org
Web 2.0 Usergroup Initiative
8th Grade Moodle - SS Curriculum/Michigan tech proficiency/Michigan high school on-line learning requirement

how many teachers are beginning to use this? when did you start, all things you will probably cover. I am very interested, we are just beginning our moodle over the summer. Any advice, I would welcome it. The moodle will be for all users, not just early adopters.- from Cheryl
Walled Lake Laptop Program: http://walledlake.k12.mi.us/AAL
Staff Development

Join in the FREE and Incredible future of education conference!!

George Siemens has planned another blockbuster FREE educational conference.
I highly suggest sending your teachers and administrators to http://www.umanitoba.ca/learning_technologies/conferences/foe/ to sign up and to participate. Not only will they learn but they will USE the technologies like Elluminate that are going to be must-haves for the school of the future.

I'm excited about presenting this Saturday morning at 8 am EST with my friend and "co-worker" Julie Lindsay -- "My Seatmate Lifes in China: The Imperative for Global Collaborative Projects." (See the schedule.)

I hope you'll join in and participate. Here is the information that George Siemens mailed out this morning -- you need to go over to his site to subscribe to receive updates.

We’re excited to begin our Future of Education conference on June 4. A brief introductory audio welcome is available here: http://www.elearnspace.org/media/FOE2007/intro.mp3

Over the duration of the next few weeks, I will provide daily emails and updates advance reading resources, and short audio files or presentations.

For now, as a conference participant, please do the following:

1. Go to Attendr and state where you will be joining the conference: http://attendr.com/foe
2. Create an account in Moodle (or if you attended our last conference, you will already have one setup): http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/moodle/course/view.php?id=12
(click "login" on the top right hand side...it will take you to the login page, or allow you to set up an account...the "create new account" button will be on the right hand side of the page)
3. Spiff up your profile in Moodle…feel free to add an image, contact info
4. Post an introductory comment (select “forums” on the left-hand side)
5. Start dialoguing on areas of personal interest…or offer suggestions on how we can improve the conference…

Conference Tag: FOE2007 (if you blog the conference or use social bookmarking tools)

The conference site for signing up for the event (if you received this email, you are already signed up...but feel free to pass along to colleagues): http://umanitoba.ca/learning_technologies/conferences/foe/

The conference schedule: http://umanitoba.ca/learning_technologies/conferences/foe/schedule.php

Access information to the live portion (in elluminate) will be forwarded toward the end of the week.

Please be aware as well that what you post on the Moodle Site or during the live presentation will be public. We will be using the conference itself for researching effective online conferences, as well as the nature of online dialogue and discourse.

Please let me know if you have any questions…

George Siemens
The map of participants is indeed impressive. (Click on the world map in the bottom left corner to see all of those who are participating!) WOW!

tag: , , , ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

Horizon Project Peer Review: Best Practices

Simulpost with TechLearning

The Horizon project has been fascinating, not only because of the project itself but also because of the intentional involvement of students as young as ten in the peer review process.

Thank you to our 5 peer reviewer classrooms from 5 countries!
Sharon Peters did a GREAT job with high school review and having it mid-project really gave the students excellent feedback and fuel to move ahead!

Chrissy Hellyer (Teaching Saggitarian - 7th grade - New Zealand), Kim Coifino (8th grade - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Read Kim's student reviews.) and Lisa Durff with her 7th grade USA class are also involved in the process, and Brandt Schneider's Web Design Class (Read Brandt's assignment and reviews.)

Several peer reviewers have tackled middle school. Graham Wegner from Australia - (who does such great job over at his Teaching Generation Z blog) has been working to formulate his thoughts on the best practices of peer review of this sort of project with middle schoolers.

Graham's Methodology for Horizon Project Peer Review

His blog post yesterday is GREAT! I particularly like his summary:

So, after reviewing four videos on Friday afternoon, I formulated an easy format for gathering the feedback. A common format for getting kids thinking about concepts is P,M,I (plus, minus, interesting). By using that today as the starting point, one student was chosen as the feedback agent for the particular video to be viewed. We watched, and the feedback agent wrote down a point or two for each P,M or I, then recorded the class’s general feedback into their PMI sheet. If every child does that over the space of this week, then each child can type up a paragraph or so of peer review comment that can be pasted into the wiki comments for the video creators. The process seemed to work fine today but it won’t happen in a day because of the need to find time for the video viewing without carving out huge chunks from the rest of the school curriculum. But writing reviews is an important English skill, so doing so for a real and purposeful venture like the Horizon Project is an ideal situation and as I keep telling the students, a real privilege as well.

What this means, even more than the students having a rich environment, that now, Sharon, Chrissy, Kim, Lisa, Graham can now "meet" to discuss the peer review process. What works and what doesn't and the most effective method to conduct such peer review. It was a bit cumbersome and we had to work out the details, but my, just looking at the PMI sheet that Graham has developed will be so very useful!!

To add more excitement, Elluminate has extended the Horizon project's time in the virtual room and we can have some "meetings" over the summer to discuss and plan the methods we will use for the project we will conduct in October/ November. So, when we conclude with the awards next week, we will begin the assessment of our ourselves.

The self-assessment and peer assessment from you is perhaps the most difficult for me because we are still learning and have done our very best but if we are going to improve not just as individual teachers, but improve as an educational community, we need to ask hard questions about how to make such a project replicable in other classrooms.

How can we make it manageable? Besides the time zone issues, how can we remove obstacles. Can we run side by side projects with other teachers (perhaps two sets of students on two wikis -- several classes each?) What courses besides ICT / Computer Science should do such projects?

So many questions. But right now, I'm just exhausted! It is hard to consider such deep questions without putting my head down on my desk! OK, back to grading!

Great job peer reviewers!
tag: , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A good laugh: 9th grade student summary video with the accent gone wild

I needed a laugh today and here it is. The summary video from a 9th grader. He changed from a French accent to an asian accent in midstream. I laughed so hard. After being up till around 1:45 am last night finishing up grades, I needed it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Substrate paper? Predictions from students! Wow!

What is going to happen in the future?

This is what the students say on the Horizon project:

From looking at the new ways to buy, read, and sell books are changing it is possible that in the future there will be no more books they will be on the computer or be shown on the wall with projectors or some kind of laser projector. They are coming out with flexible paper it is called a substrate based color electronic paper. The paper might take the place of regular paper and will also help with the global warming epidemic.

These growing technological tools are going to lead to the fact that the demand for specific jobs such as programmers, webmasters, and the likes of "pro-bloggers" are going to be increased dramatically. And blogging has already started to affect the labor market that job opportunities for those who are experienced in blogging are exploding. (Indeed.com - job search engine, "blogging" search) In addition, with the rising and spreading trend of 'Digital Libraries' and internet databases the main medium of the publication business will most likely shift from paper-back books to 'internet-back' blogs or other new forms of publication.

But there are issues and criticisms rising concerning this rather rampant growth of the internet-based medium of publication. The criticisms that articulate the fact that piracy is under the circumlocution of innovation. That corporations are ignoring the basic rights of intellectual property upon people for new money-making innovations.
This was so well written, I admit it, I googled the text to make sure it was real. It is!

Then, over on Social Networking:

Schools need to teach students how to be "social" and how to be effective collaborators because of the social world they are growing up in. Social Networks will not only change students' social outlook on things, but will help them see different ways to look at education. Using Networking sites in the corporate world gives businesses a running start to new ideas, expand their knowledge, and collaborate with others in the same working field, but that aren't even in the same country.

And over at virtual worlds, they predict:

"Eventually virtual worlds will permeate into every aspect of education. They (virtual worlds and education) will be one - inseparable, impossible to distinguish or differerientate. People will be able to attend a school solely in virtual worlds. Classes, from kindergarten to college, will be able to go inside a whale's stomach or visit ancient Rome, even design entire cities. The possibilities are endless and available. We need only to take advantage of them."

I'm going to tell you that the Virtual Worlds in Education wiki is a must read. It is well researched and I can hardly believe it is written by high school students!

And the vision of the future of mobile phones-- I think they are very accurate.

And I enjoyed Joanna's video about Virtual Worlds. She is from Shanghai and has a great voice for this. Great overview!

Goodnight! It is after 1:30 am. But I had to share these!

"These Games are Why Kids Wake Up in the Morning"

As I am grading the Horizon project, I just had to share this quote written from the heart of a teenager. He was discussing Massively Multiplayer Gaming as it relates to governments and says:

"The Governments need to realize that while these games seem like just games to all the politicians, to kids and teenagers and some adults these games are why they wake up in the morning. Identity theft, kids thinking that the games are real, and sexual harassment are the three biggest threats when logging on to any one of these virtual online games. our governments need to find a way to regulate these games because the truth of the matter is that these games are the future and we need a safe future. This is the truth and if we sit back and do nothing about it our future will be dark indeed..."

While this wiki isn't perhaps one of our highest scoring ones, there are nuggets like this throughout that give us a glimpse into the passion of students and their desire to have safety in all areas where they live.

I think as adults we must:

1) Accept the world has changed

Stop trying to fight it, blame it, hate it, and ignore it. We are in the midst of a fundamental cultural change.

2) Model reasoned, educated action

We must be models of reason -- people who don't jump to conclusions blindly but show students that we can learn new things, and make intelligent decisions about how to civilize and utilize new tools as they come along.

tag: , , , , ,

Brian Crosby on WOW2 tonight - learn how he brought a student with leukemia into his classroom via Skype

The amazing Brian Crosby is on WOW2 tonight over at Edtechtalk.com at 9 pm EST. What a great thing to do while grading -- just catch the stream and listen (click on one of the channels.) If you wish to go into the chat, you can click the chat button on the left and ask questions and chat with us!

Brian writes the Learning is Messy blog but we became entranced with his classroom when we saw his work to bring a child who has leukemia back into the classroom via Skype. (See my blog post about it.)

Brian is also using wikis with fourth graders to explore animals and had a recent Visit from Krista McCauliff's mother. Brian works in a district with many low income students and is showing that yes, Web 2 works anywhere to meet very real needs. He is a very good teacher with an upbeat inspirational message.

I hope you'll join us to meet this amazing educator tonight! There are so many of you amazing teachers out there, it is so great that we have a place over at edtechtalk.com to highlight the work of real teachers and just chat.

Come on over!
tag: , , , , , ,

Encouragement for Teachers

This is just a quick thought to all of you teachers out there who are so busy that you cannot breathe!

It is tough with all of the things that we have on us and so many people misunderstand the teaching profession,

"Oh, I'd love to have my summers off... you teachers don't have to work in the 'real world.'"

To which I respond,

"I've worked in the 'real' world, and I love the classroom, although my hours are MUCH longer, and I make so much less, the work is very rewarding. I feel like teaching is the most noble calling on earth and nothing is more real to me than my precious, wonderful students."

I truly feel that way. Teaching is a noble profession without which the civilized world would have no hope. What we do in our classroom is very important and each of us play a part in the grand scheme of society. Taking time to blog, share, discuss, and be a part of this new educational revolution is also very important.

So, my advice today as I'm a bit bleary eyed from working on my graduation presentation last night until after midnight is this...

Keep on going. Keep up a good attitude. Remember that May will soon be over and you'll be getting nervous about that new class of students in the fall (as all good teachers do.) Enjoy it while it is here... a moment to sit back and say, "You know what, I did a good job this year."

Keep the faith teachers, you make the world go round. Take time to encourage other teachers who may be having a tough time right now.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Are kids too much of an open book on Facebook

Thank you to Christopher Sessums for sharing this video about Facebook. I'm going to share it with my students. (I also found it on youtube but the link above is another site.)

Again, educate students about their privacy. What they don't know may come back to haunt them.

Their privacy is a very valuable thing! It should be treated with care.

tag: ,

An easy way to attend the conference: Listen live at EdTechTalk

Just a note! I have grading to do today but want to listen in on the Webheads Conference, so I went over to http://www.edtechtalk.com/listen and am listening to the current sessions.

Jeff Lebow and Dave Cormier are doing an incredible service to the educational community and are going into the sessions and "snagging" the stream out. This way you can listen and grade or work.

The only disadvantage is you don't see the slides nor can you chat, but that is an advantage when you need to grade!

I'm listening to Professional Development using Wikis.

EdTechTalk does an incredible FREE service for the educational community. I find myself over there more and more each week.

So, even though I don't show up in the session, I am listening! (We get out of school on Friday and I have to grade everything!)

If you're online you should be at the Free Online Conference: Webhead Convergence

All educators who are online and have a moment, should take advantage of the incredible resource put on by the "WebHeads" -- this group of people has worked very hard to bring us an incredible K-20 conference for educators.

The CURRENT event can be seen at the bottom of http://www.webheadsinaction.org/.

You'll see more training that you can get at a real conference and you don't even have to get dressed. It runs through tomorrow!

I spent some time learning from George Siemens this morning and particularly liked this graphic.

He made a couple of important points that I put in my notes:

We have:
  • Content
  • Conversations
  • Connections
He says that often the connections we make are of more significant future value than the content or conversations themselves that are currently transpiring.

The School in Liverpool that Eliminated Laptops Because the Results didn't show

He also talked about what a poor job that many of us who see and are realizing the value of technology are doing. He cited a school in Liverpool that eliminated laptops after finding no improvement in academic achievement. Well, that got me going, so I'm going to quote my thoughts on technology in the classroom right here:

Me: Well, let's eliminate paper -- if a study was done on toilet paper it would show no academic value but if we studied a history book it might have more.

Me: The paper can be used for multiple purposes -- likewise laptop's value is in the use.

Me: Laptops won’t make a kid smarter any more than if Einstein rubbed a kid’s head.

It is about How We use laptops!

It is about HOW we use laptops not the FACT that we have laptops. Too many parents brag "Oh, we have a laptop school" and guess what, those shiny new laptops have their microprocessors gathering dust as they sit in some storage bin at the end of the hall. HAVING is not the operative term here USING is.

In fact, we don't have a laptop campus and perhaps get more use out of our workstations than many schools who do have laptops. Laptops can take you further but they can also be a distraction if they have no purpose.

What would you do if Einstein was in your room?

The simplistic thought of HAVING laptops making kids smarter, that somehow touching the keys imparts an extra 10 points to their IQ is preposterous. It is about effectively USING the laptops. After all, if we had Einstein in our classrooms, would we just want the kids to sit there and look at him and have him rub their little noggins or would we let them ASK questions (Google his brain), talk to him, take notes, video him, record him? We would have everything possible to allow the interactions.

What if a researcher studied the wrong kind of paper?

I could envision this report.

"We have studied the efficacy of paper in schools. It is often thrown on the floor and usually flushed down the toilets. It is wrapped around trees. But it's most common use by students is that they put disgusting, smelly, slimy bodily excretions of all kind on them. This practice has to stop! We cannot allow such waste. We have studied and found that this paper causes no improvement in academic performance and therefore we show no correlation between paper and academic performance."
I could see well meaning educators basing everything upon this one report and removing all paper. When it is obvious that this study was done on toilet paper! Can we not see that one cannot study the efficacy of "laptops" any more than the efficacy of "paper" -- it is the pedagogy, folks not the item. Do we study pencils, pens, paper, libraries, classrooms? No, we study

We have to take into account the context and pedagogical use of the laptops!

The Right Thing means the Right Way

If we are going to do the right thing, we need to advocate doing it in the right way. Laptops in a school with no plan to use the laptops correctly is a recipe for failure, it is not progress but rather the illusion of progress.

However, any tool used correctly makes a good teacher better.

Add your voice for effective education using technology.

tag: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Summary videos from 9th grade efolios

I've been grading the efolio portion of the 9th grade portfolios. These are done on our wiki. Here are a couple of highlight videos that I particularly liked.

Note: the video he talked about in this was never uploaded. We probably upload about 60% of our videos, some of them, while great for classroom use and discussion may not be appropriate for being available on the Internet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Meet your Mobile Phone 2020

From Julie's Blog today, I found these videos from the horizon project:

Atif from the ISD school in Bangladesh has done a great job with his mobile phone video. Wow!

Or how about Ginger from the Shanghai School in China.

I am going to enjoy watching all of the videos this summer. I am learning so much and am excited about the quality of these videos and what I am learning from them.

David Warlick may not know this, but an e-mail that I received during February/March from him directly impacted this project. He said:

"Off and on, over the past many months, the thought has emerged that there has to be a way of utilizing this read/write web to affect the changes we are looking for in education leadership. But I've drawn a blank. I'm not young enough. But it occurred to me this morning that we get the students to do it for us."
David, thank you for your continuing leadership. You could not have known that Julie and I were in the midst of planning horizon and that your thoughts about encouraging students to envision the future would impact this. We now have more than 50 videos from students envisioning the future and it is not one that I nor perhaps even the best minds in education would envision.

These projects are transforming the discussions taking place at our schools. Students are getting involved in their future! It is empowering and exciting.

I think it is important to involve students in the process of envisioning the future. The most exciting thing is to see how much work and effort was put into these videos with many students finding friends to act and filming at many different locations! They give me chills! WOW!

I encourage you to visit their youtube videos and comment and view them. And to embed them on your blog, click on the video to go to the youtube site and copy the embed code and paste it into your blog. Publish and voila -- you have youtube in your blog!

Terry Freedman's interview about Horizon

We sat down with Terry via Google Docs recently and answered his questions about horizon. Thank you, Terry, for your kind words and for your promotion of global collaborative projects.

Had a great youth summit session today in elluminate (even though I was home sick) we elluminated anyway! It was wonderful and full of the ups and downs of all learning. (This was their second time in elluminate.) I will share the link here when elluminate sends it to me!

Hear the student presentations from today in class:


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stephen Downes on edtechtalk NOW!

If you're online right now, Stephen Downes is joining us over at edtechtalk.com right now! Some exciting discussions planned with Sharon Peters moderating!

Virtual Worlds Videos from the Horizon

This is the video from the Virtual Worlds project manager, Collin, and co-stars his partners in this project:

I also love Andrew S's vision of the future with virtual worlds which he animated in Flash/ Movie Maker.

What a fascinating project! I've learned so much from all of the students and look forward to sharing many videos with you from all classrooms. I share these first just because I watched them being made!

This next is where you go if you want to understand the gaming world and virtual worlds and how they tend to become a part of your life. This student was actually the overlord of a "clan" in Halo for a period of time that was the top in the world. The video of Halo was of him playing the game and was shot by a member of his clan! Fascinating! This was the key to unlocking his interest in this project!

tag: ,

Today's youth summit in Elluminate

The road into a new horizon is full of bumps as shown by today's youth summit. I thought my students did well for their first time in elluminate. After their obligatory 5 minutes of playing with the whiteboard, we settled down to business with the students improving as they went.

Here is the recording (bumps and all!)


For the upcoming schedule (in EST unless you've logged into airset), this is the calendar.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Social Networking: The must see video from horizon!

The youth summit kicks off in about 30 minutes. We're excited!

Just a quick preview. I've been looking at videos and will be sharing many of them with you here. Here is one from the project manager of social networking. (Yes, it stars me as "Mean Cat teacher.") All of the teams have worked very hard and I will make sure that I share with you from all of them!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Essay that Rocked my world: The Personal side of LD

a simulpost with TechLearning

Yesterday at the Rotary Club I sat there with tears in my eyes listening to my sixth grader win an essay contest. Only I and a few others knew that only three years earlier he could barely compose a legible paragraph.

It was third grade and my son suddenly went from a high achieving, well behaved child to one who was struggling emotionally and mentally with the tasks at hand. I knew something was wrong. Children don't just change behavior like that. I have a sister with a learning challenge (we don't call them disabilities in our family) and knew that he was coming up against something that he could not overcome.

The public school said his test scores were too high for them to test so we eliminated our family vacation between his third and fourth grade year and went to the incredible icon of testing in our area, the Atlanta Speech School.

While I won't go into all of the details, I'll generalize that a non-verbal processing issue was overflowing into his handwriting which made it illegible when he had to work on challenging tasks (with too much processing going on.) Additionally, grammar and spelling were diagnosed areas of issue and unless it was a grammar assignment he was not to be counted off for punctuation and spelling. (A battle which is a hard one to fight.)

We were told that it was imperative that he learn to type and use a computer for spelling and grammar as soon as possible.

We had him ready and responsible and purchased him a laptop halfway through his fifth grade year. In my role at the school, we worked to raise the money and put in wireless to cover our school. Now, he is able to type all written assignments and spell check.

The bright, intelligent child who shines in so many areas, can now write beautifully. I am so very proud of him because I know that I did not write the following essay, HE DID!

So, today, I will share with you today the power of what happens when you accommodate and use technology to help children. And to challenge you to realize that gifted children have LD too. We all have learning differences. These learning differences must be understood and accommodated!

And if you are a parent, do whatever it takes to find out how your child learns. Sacrifice, give up family vacations and never, ever give up!

This was the winning essay from our Middle School for the Rotary Club Character Counts Essay contest from my sixth grade son:

Why Character Counts

Honesty, perseverance, and responsibility are character traits that the community, the business world, and the whole world need more. There are many definitions for honesty. Not lying, cheating, nor stealing are examples of honesty. Being fair and upright are also part of being honest. If all the people in the world were honest, there would be no fighting, no wars, no crimes, and no lying. Give other people credit, don't take more than your fair share, and don't lie are only some of the many things honesty can teach us.

Perseverance, not giving up when times are hard, is another part of having good character. Never, ever stop until the job is done. It is like when my grandma tells me the story of the frog and the butter churn. He fell in and had to keep kicking until there was enough butter to stand on so he could jump out. He almost quit and drowned, but no, he kept on kicking, and he lived. If the world had perseverance, there would be no divorce, no suicide, and no quitters.

Responsibility is accepting the blame for our own actions...not blaming others for our own faults. We are all human, and we all have flaws, but we need to still take responsibility for our mistakes.

When I think of these three traits, I think of my Poppa who is a farmer. Poppa is honest, and when he tells people something, they believe him because he has never lied to them before. He perseveres as a farmer when it doesn't rain or when there is too much rain. He never quits, and people around the world know he's a great farmer. Poppa has to be responsible to make sure he properly disposes of waste on the farm like the dead chickens so that the environment stays safe. I use him as my living example of good character and someone who is honest, perseveres, and is responsible.

tag: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Speak out about Edubloggercon for NECC

Steve Hargadon has posted the schedule for Edubloggerconn on the wiki.

It is scheduled for Saturday, June 23rd from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm but you can drop in and out. Check who is attending and add your name. We'll talk more later!

Plans announced to create the Encyclopedia of Life

source: San Jose Mercury News

The Encyclopedia of Life (www.eol.org) will take approximately 10 years to create according to its founders, who will announce the effort in Washington DC today. Who are they? Some of the world's leading scientific institutions and universities in the world.

They plan to catalog and share information on all of the species of animals and will allow information on SIGHTINGS from "amateurs."

Projected to take 300 million pages,
"The MacArthur and Sloan foundations have given a total $12.5 million to pay for the first 2 1/2 years of the massive effort, but it will be free and accessible to everyone."

From the great article over at the San Jose Mercury News,

""It could be a very big leap in the way we do science," said Cristian Samper, acting secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, one of seven museums, universities and labs to launch the encyclopedia. "This is a project that is so big, not even the Smithsonian could do it by itself. It is a global effort."

Other institutions helping head the undertaking include Harvard University, Chicago's Field Museum, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, the Biodiversity Heritage Library Consortium, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Atlas of Living Australia."

Of course, as an idealist, I wish these scientists would sign up to contribute to wikipedia, the mechanism is already in place. And who is going to define "amateur?"

My Mixed Emotions

I applaud that scientists are now seeing that the online creation of content is a valid form of scholarship. I am saddened that another behemoth is going to be created when perhaps we could take the wikipedia entries already in place and edit them.

However, perhaps this is just the answer to those skeptics out there who dismiss wikipedia as a valid source of information, they won't be able to dispute this one and perhaps will be forced to unblock this resource although it will be edited by man!

I just found out about it. What do you think?

tag: , , ,

2 Million Online Vids for Mickey Mouse

Disney announces that they have sold 2 million online videos through iTunes, 23.7 million shows, and 92 million ad-supported show episodes. The article at ZDNET discusses how Disney has been revamping their online activities to include more social networking capabilities and a move towards more video on demand services delivered through the Internet.

Are classrooms moving online?

We continue to move towards Internet delivery of all electronic media, but I have to ask myself how well we are moving in that direction in our classrooms.

What does it take to work at Google?
Last night in the WOW2 webcast with Christin Frodella, director of Google Educators network, we talked about what it takes to work at a place like Google. She stated that the "ability to ask questions" and the "ability to be self motivated without someone looking over your shoulder" and "curiosity" and "passion for your profession" as vital for working at Google.

She didn't state knowledge, but of course it was implied that you were very good at what you do.
I think that proficiency is assumed, students must have a certain level of proficiency. But past that, they need to be thinkers, problem solvers, and communicators in a burgeoning techno-personal world.

Time to move online
The fact is that as our world moves online, our classrooms must move online too. Meanwhile, when I think back on the chat last night in WOW2, it seems that many IT departments are moving their school offline as fast as their fingers can type in a filter.

What is being blocked now? Gmail, all chat services, Skype, youtube, twitter, were just a few of the things mentioned last night.

The Bandwidth Dilemma

Bandwidth is certainly an issue. However, we've got to get creative. For example, couldn't a teacher enter the websites that they will be going to the next day and let the server download those graphics or items overnight for the next day? Could e-mails download in the night instead of on demand (since we all demand things at the same time.)

Can we preorder videos, etc. and let some sort of iTunes like synchronization happen in the night? Or could we just invest in faster connections much like we invest in buildings. No one says, "Are we going to put a bathroom in that building?" neither should we scrimp on Internet connectivity. It is vital.

Mickey Mouse's rush into online delivery makes all of the discussions about filtering and blocking and restrictions look well... very Mickey Mouse.

Remember, I always advocate some form of filtering, however, there is a big difference between wise filtering and carte blanche filtering of everything. If you filter it all, why even connect to the Internet, just go back to CD's!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Karl Fish's SHIFT HAPPENS presentation wins "Best Presentation in the World"

Interesting thing here -- I've congratulated the wrong person -- the creator as seen in the comments is Jbrenamen. It looks like he did a remix.

I think some interesting conversations will happen about this one!

Congratulations to Karl Fisch who is adding to his growing list of awards with his SlideShare presentation Shift Happens. (Hat tip for this info to Jose Luis Cabello via twitter.)

Slideshare has named this presentation "World's Best Presentation!" Congratulations, Karl John?! Here is the presentation, see for yourself!

Remember, the great thing about slideshare is that you can go over there and comment on any individual slide!

And Karl John wins an Alienware laptop! Supercool!

Connecting us all!

And isn't this an amazing world that let's a person from Centennial, Colorado ? can contribute in such an amazing way. (Or in Camilla, Georgia or all of these other remote places -- I often wonder if much of the innovation happening is because now we can tap into the resources and intellect of many of us who are in rural locations and have been "excluded by location.")

Karl's Horizon Keynote

Great thing about Karl is that he's super nice. He recently delivered the keynote address for the horizon project.

tag: , , , ,

Monday, May 07, 2007

Heroes in the Hallway: The must see bullying prevention video

Thanks to my friend Steve Dembo for sharing this chill-bump inducing video. WOW!

Sometimes we need the pictures and stories like this to share the story of what people can do to prevent bullying.

Of course, we always have to be careful that by "dropping notes" as kids do that we keep balance. Often those who bully are victims themselves at home.

tag: , , , ,

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Second Life - Teen Grid Education Info MEETING tomorrow night at 9pm PST in SL

From my new MUST READ friend Ryan Bretag, this information about a meeting tomorrow night, Sunday at 9 pm PST on EduIsland about how educators can get involved in the teen grid educational areas of second life.

I may be asleep (or grading) but if I'm awake, I'll be there!

Here is the info!

EduIsland II welcomes the Eye4You Alliance Teen Island and the ELVEN Institute! ELVEN helps pre-K12 educators and librarians to integrate new technologies into teaching and learning, whilst Eye4You Alliance’s office on this island represents the creation of a direct communication channel between MG and TG adult educators.

On Sunday at 9am PDT Eye4You will be holding an open public meeting on EduIsland II that will discuss how adult educators can become involved in Teen Grid education.

tag: , , ,

Wikipedia Validity: Stop Reading and Start Writing Experts!

Karl Fish has a great post commenting on the recent article in the Denver Post that 4 out of 5 experts agree on the accuracy of wikipedia, Karl says.
"..there was no mention of whether any of the scholars contributed to the Wikipedia article they were reviewing.... It’s not like I expect the reviewers to take hours (or days) to clean up the articles, but you would think they might take an extra five or ten minutes to modify a few things since they’re there anyway. It almost seems like the thought never crosses their minds – or at least the mind of the reporter. It seems like such an obvious question to ask, and include the answer in the article.

... I find it interesting that the print version doesn’t include the URL for Wikipedia (much less for the particular topics), and that the online version doesn’t include links.

Here is what I said in response:

I agree - here is the difference -- the expert can actually EDIT the entry (novel idea) so that the information IS accurate -- can they do that with an encyclopedia? Can they do that with a magazine article?

Experts everywhere should be climbing into wikipedia and editing and not just reviewing.

I think the fact that the experts were asked to read and not write was a Web 2 article written in a very Web 1 way. Perhaps if they had been asked to review and edit and see if the information remained accurate would be a better measure of wikipedia's accuracy.
I had to share, this topic will really get me going!

tag: ,

Time Zone Problems Adieu to You: Meet Airset

Julie and I spent 2 1/2 hours today in elluminate, learning how to use elluminate and then the last 30 minutes troubleshooting the BLASTED time zone problem that has caused problems with every online conference we've attended from K12online to the connectivism conference.

And guess what, after much hacking and struggling -- the problem is solved!

(If you really want to hear our voices and how we work together, you're welcome to listen to the recording --

Now, if you don't believe me (most of you who have pulled your hair out won't) -- go to this wiki page - http://horizonproject.wikispaces.com/Student+Summit and take a look at the calendar. Press month and notice something!

***NOTE: After some testing, we found that it only converts on the page IF YOU ARE LOGGED INTO YOUR AIRSET ACCOUNT -- the following is a note from Julie on the Ning - Well, maybe not as good as we thought, but still great -- got to go invite the students to airset to make this work. Otherwise, it goes to my default as the creator - eastern time!
Vicki, I am just as excited about this as you are. However, and this may be obvious to others, to see the embedded widget on the Horizon Project wiki page in your own local time you need to logged into Airset on the computer at the same time. Please someone correct me if I am wrong...it does not pick up the time from the preferences in your computer but from a link throutgh logging into your Airset account.

BTW, I found this out when trying to demonstrate this to my HP class today and after telling them how good it was and how it was in Bangladesh time....there it was in Eastern time! ooops.......

It converts to YOUR TIME ZONE. Guess what? We entered the times in OUR TIME ZONE! (Called LOCAL TIME on the calendar) Airset converts and handles it!

What does this mean for online conferences and multi-time zone projects!?

This means that you can create a group in Airset and that each person can look at the calendar in their own time zone (as set up in the preferences) and that you can create events and invite other group members who get an invitation to the event via e-mail IN THEIR TIME ZONE! They can RSVP, etc.

I've been using this awesome program for my family since March but now it is moving to the horizon! (See Rapidly Synchronize your Sanity)

What can you RSS?
You can RSS both the calendar AND changes to the calendar. Additionally, you can use the lists feature to create lists, etc. It has blogs, hyperlinks, files, etc. And my family and I have a private airset that we use for all of these things (sorry, you cannot get to it!) I also have used RSS to pull the calendar events to my children's google start page to remind them when they log on their computer what is coming up! Because, even if you don't make your calendar public, you can hyperlink and RSS to the calendar for those who know the feed address.

What can you synch with?

Also, I've been using Airset for a while and can tell you that it synchs with: Outlook, my cell phone, AND my palm pilot! ALSO, I have it set to send me text messages on my cell phone telling me my calendar for the next day AND I can put reminders for events so that it will text me when I need to do something!

We will use it for the youth summit?

We're going to use it to allow students to sign up for times in the youth summit so we can stop HAVING TO CONVERT THE TIME AND FIGURE IT OUT!

We were so excited! This has been our biggest problem. We tried Google Calendar and gave up on that after a few minutes. On a whim, we tried airset and VOILA!

But, there are a few tricks, so here is how you do it!

Here is what we are doing!

1) Create your personal account in airset. When you do, you will have a personal calendar. Notice that this is NOT the calendar for your group but is your private calendar.

Make sure that when you do this that you click PREFERENCES at the top of the screen and PERSONAL to check your time zone.

If you want to integrate your cell phone and live in North America, set up your cell phone.

2) Create a new group in Airset (see my post Rapidly Synchronize your sanity).

3) While you are still learning, you may want to just go in there and add one or two others -- you can make them organizers and they can assist you in administration. All you have to do is type in their e-mail address.

4) When you create an event, make sure on the time zone that you specify LOCAL TIME -- this means it will be converted to the local time of the viewer! This is the trick.

We tried it the other way where we specified the specific time, if you do that, it will show it NOT in local time but in that time zone -- and if you mess up and create the event not in local time, it won't let you change it! You'll have to go back and delete the event and create it again!

5) To share it, you have to go Group --> RSS Feeds --> Manage -- then you can enable RSS feeds and can also fine the embed code to embed the calendar in your page. I am going to do this for WOW2 -- so convenient!

I am going to create a tutorial for the students and I WILL SHARE IT WITH YOU!

But right now, the house is a mess and I have a ton of papers to grade, so first I have to clean!

But I'm so excited! The great thing about being on the cutting edge is that it FORCES you to innovate! It forces you to be more and do more!

And when we share, others can learn! I am so very excited to be part of this educational horizon!

Thanks Elluminate!
I think that one big reason that this innovation happened is that Julie and I were able to meet F2F virtually (ha ha)-- Elluminate has agreed to sponsor the horizon synchronous communication efforts and we are so very excited! It it is GREAT! It is so EXCITING! WOW!

It also means we can record and share our sessions with you and add another aspect of documentation to the process!

PS -- I have been sending out invitation to Joost, a couple of you I cannot find your e-mail addresses b/c I can't view your blogger profile. If you want an invitation to the Web2 way to view TV just e-mail me at coolcatteacher at gmail.com.

tag: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Such conversations on the horizon move me!

This tonight in a discussion on the social networking wiki of the horizon project between students on opposite sides of the globe:

katttrinaa writes: question
It's not all about MySpace and Facebook. Explore the possibilities of the tools used in social networking for the purposes of your wiki. Tools, tools, tools! emphasize the tools!

what do you mean by tools?
Posted Today 12:30 am - [delete]
casey12350 writes: re: question
things such as bulletins, groups, blogs, friends, pictures, movies, reviews, features, profile, status, personal interests...tools are what makes social networking exciting for students to use. by tools, i mean that you don't need to say, "myspace and facebook shouldn't be used in school because they would be a distraction." you need to examine what makes students want to be involved with social networking.

Note that we allow IM speak in the discussion areas although not on the final wiki product. I wish that educators could have such concise, full, meaningful discussions on these topics. Truly the students continue to teach me!

And no sooner had I hit post than I can across this discussion occuring between student peer reviewers, expert reviewers, teachers, and students on a group that has been struggling - massively multiplayer educational gaming. This discussion hits at the core of this topic in a profound and amazing way.

To ignore and not teach peer review and discussion strategies is to ignore the power of wikis.

Peer review

mades writes: Peer review

I am a student at Lower Canada College, recently our class was selected to peer review your projects. I really enjoyed reading your article on “massively multiplayer educational gaming.” However, although it contained some key points, and interesting facts; I found it to be lacking some content. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the idea of creating links. Moreover, I think it would be very interesting and interactive if you included some multimedia or audio clips. In addition, I was very pleased with your grammar and structure. However, there are some areas which need improvement. For instance, I have come across a few run on sentences, and a couple words need capitalization. Nonetheless, I have to say I found the diagram to be very helpful, it added dimension to the text. After reviewing you discussion board I am pleased to say there seemed to be negotiation, yet, there seems to be a lack of discussion, furthermore, your project requires more delegation. From what I have noticed, after reviewing your history and discuss board, there seems to be a lack of collaboration throughout the project. Although am I not aware if there are specific requirements for each student, it is my understanding that one student seems to be more on task, and responsible then the other members of the group. Although your project contained dimension and diagrams, I think it would be very interesting if you would be able to create a link to an example of a multiplayer educational game. Before I finish my response, I would like to ask you a few questions, which I came across while reading your article. The first being, do you find these games are helpful, interesting and to be a good learning process? In addition, do you believe the saying “if you hear it, you will forget it?” and last but not least, what do you find is the best way learn? By listening, seeing, or getting involved? Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestions. I really enjoyed having the chance to read your article, and i found it to be very interesting. I hope you take into concideration my adivce, I beleive it will help your project a lot.
Posted Apr 25, 2007 7:34 pm - [delete]
keroppi writes: re: Peer review
Dear Mades,

Thanks for the comments. I think most of us are just "lost" because we dont exactly know much about MMEG's but are experts in MMORPG's. *Shrugs*
Posted Apr 27, 2007 1:51 am - [delete]
julielindsay writes: re: Peer review
Thank you for your very considered and detailed response to the student's work. keroppi, you could at least start with a discussion about the difference between MMRG and MMORPGs?
Posted Apr 29, 2007 12:28 pm - [delete]
kellychris writes: re: Peer review
The review was very detailed and will help with the overall structure of the wiki. As for the MMEG's, they are not much different than MMORPGs in many ways - have you thought of doing a diagram, using a drawing or mindmapping tool, to show a visual of similarities and differences? Given that many of MMORPGs require significant collaboration and team work, you might suggest how these ideas could be transferred to MMEGs. While doing this, you might look at the development of art and entertainment as it becomes more "open source" thus allowing all levels of developers to have a try at game development. How might this impact things like copyright law or laws between countries when it comes to information exchange. Keep up the good work. If you have any questions, let me know. Mr. C
Posted Tuesday, 12:54 am - [delete]
brightideaguru writes: re: Peer review
I think that this is an incredible issue that needs to be expanded on the main page and hits at the heart of the understanding and misunderstandings of MMEG's. I think that a comparison and contrast could perhaps be added as a subtopic (heading 3) under the current news and actually some of the great information here should be pulled to the main page. Also MMORPG's should be mentioned on the social cultural impact analysis page as well.
Posted 1 minute ago - [delete]

Get Joost, get an invite from me when you share!

OK, I'm testing Joost which is a pretty hot commodity. Somehow, they considered me worthy of testing it and thus far it is pretty cool.

I got a notification a bit later that I had 3 invites and gave them out on the WOW2 show a couple of weeks a go. Now, the number has been multiplied greatly and I have 100.

So, to invite you to joost, the way to watch TV on your PC, all you have to do is comment here and share:

1) Your favorite Web 2 tool in the classroom that you are using RIGHT NOW! and (What keeps you "juiced" about Web 2)
2) One thing you do to stay motivated when you have a tough day! (Pardon the pun but how do you stay juiced!)

And then, make sure that your e-mail is in the blogger profile (or contact me and give me your e-mail)

tag: , , , , ,

More Global Projects

Julie shared a great list of global projects today.

There are so many great projects coming from the grassroots efforts of educators, it is time for you to join in as you plan the curriculum for next year.

How will your students collaborate globally?
Will they begin to understand their part in a global world?

My students were complaining today:

"Mrs. Vicki, it is like this. WE ARE SO CUT OFF IN NORTH AMERICA! With our time zones it is harder for us to work on this project than it is for the other students who tend to be awake closer to the same time. We are frustrated because of our time zone and how it disconnects us with the world!"

My goodness! I guess I've been a little envious of Julie who is able to help Ed and John and Barbara more effectively because her school day overlaps theirs. Mine does not!

These are the things that we don't observe or notice without such collaboration. I believe that such projects make us less ethnocentric and more globally minded and are essential for encouraging a generation of leaders who understand the dynamics of collaborating effectively.

Meanwhile, my student who is working Massively Multiplayer Educational gaming and analyzing the political ramifications of it has brought to me some video from youtube. He has turned up several videos showing very blatant, terrible "gang" behavior and sexual harrassment happening on Xbox live.

(Warning, there is profanity in this video! It is very graphic and upsetting.)

In this video, several gamers, (obviously men by their voices) are ganging up on a female player and continuing to kill her avatar as they cooperate to harrass and kill her. Interestingly one person is filming it.

My student said something like this to me,

"Mrs. Vicki, this is terrible behavior and upsets me. As we move online in such environments, the companies who create these worlds are basically the government and when they allow such behavior to happen, they are allowing bad things. I think we are going to have to change the way we think about games and virtual worlds as being spaces that need rules as well. We are going to have to look to gaming providers as governments and our real governments are going to have to require behavior that is appropriate.

Will there be intra -game lawsuits and complaints? Actually, some of these are self regulating however if the people in the game don't have high standards, it won't work.

What would happen if each member of this game was in a different country. How would such behavior be stopped? Right now it cannot! What should be done?"

And another light bulb went on.

Sometimes I wonder if I am more current because my students are my teachers.

Perhaps politicans and others need to be seeking the same professors as I have in my classroom. This is definitely the "bleeding" edge of technology with my students easily getting off task on youtube as others rip video for legitimate videos. I have to monitor their behavior closely and realize that sometimes although students are very excited... it may be for legitimate purposes and not for something off task! What a new mind blowing world this is!

tag: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mid course correction for Horizon

We've found that it is vital to have mid course corrections in big projects like horizon. In such a project 100% participation from all students is the objective and it takes a lot of one on one coaching to get that done!

But what if one or two still hang on after this bit, this is what we are doing, and honestly, I think it is a great idea because it is VERY reflective of what I saw in the business world.

We posted this on the class announcements page today:

Collaborative projects in the real world often require a "mid course correction" based on current circumstances on the project. This is your opportunity to make such a mid course correction. You have until sunset on Sunday (this is the horizon project, after all) to combine any two of your impact wikis. All topics must still be covered and you must link to the "old" wiki so that information (edits and discussions -- evidence of collaboration) will be preserved. This will allow you to put together effectively functioning teams so that your objective is achieved: a complete research project on your trend.

Meanwhile, horizon has taken a big chunk of my blogging time as has senior slide show and efolios.

However, today as I had Jimmy Buffet on my radio and the wind in my hair driving to the JV track meet for my son, I felt truly free.

I sacrifice a lot to be at the school with my children and yet, though my pocketbook suffers, I am rich, and I am free. I am free to be there for my children at the most pivotal moments of life. I am supported by great administrators and free to innovate and push my classroom to the limits. I am free to blog and share with you. I am free to meet the best that education has to offer.

I am free to enjoy each moment for truly a GREAT teaching job is freedom. (Likewise, a terrible situation is a prison. Been there!)

So, for now, I am free. Enjoying the wind in my hair and the horizon in my eyes. I wish more teachers felt this free!

Oh, such joy is mine,
for to teach
tis joy sublime!

tag: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Elementary Roundtable Tonight on WOW2

Hey, if you're online, come on over to WOW2 where we're talking with some amazing elementary educators tonight led by Elementary Collaborator extraordinaire, Jen Wagner.

It is going to be supercool and we're going to max out on the number in the skype!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Disqus Comments for Cool Cat Teacher Blog