Friday, January 25, 2008

Federal Holidays VoiceThread Takes Off!

Our Federal Holidays project, which included a VoiceThread by our fifth grade students is starting to take on a life of its own! I sent out a tweet to Wesley Fryer, who not only commented on our VoiceThread, but blogged about it in his blog, Moving At the Speed of Creativity. His blog lead other people to view our VoiceThread. I have received a lot of positive feedback on this project over the past couple of days from people that I don't know, from all over the country. This is the power of the web! This is what Steve Dembo was talking about in his presentation. Very exciting for me and for my students!

FETC - MidLink Presentation

It is freezing in Orlando (by Florida standards) this morning! Having my coffee and reflecting on my day at FETC, my presentation, and MidLink Magazine.

After presenting, I realized that MidLink truly provides a great service to teachers. Our collection of projects, created by our editors who hail from New York, Canada, and North Carolina, are great examples of project-based learning that's ready to be replicated. The projects are connected to standards and incorporate technology and collaboration tools. They are applicable to elementary, middle, and high school and are models for how to weave educational technology into the curriculum.

Joselyn Todd and I presented Web 2.0: More Than Razzle Dazzle to a standing room only crowd of educators from all areas of the education field. Surprisingly, most of the web 2.0 tools we discussed were new to a big part of our audience. We created a PBwiki site for our presentation and asked a member of the audience to be a scribe and take notes in the wiki for the rest of the participants. Coincidentally, in her notes, she mentions that most of the notes came from back channeling -- I love that!

Fifty minutes absolutely flew by. We could have gone on for another hour! After we finished, it was nice to receive comments from people about how much they learned from our presentation and how they were excited to go out and try the web 2.0 tools we talked about. It was also very cool to know that people were 'tweeting' live during our presentation and blogging about it, too!

Web 2.0 was a focus at FETC this year, as pointed out in T.H.E. Journal.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

FETC - Steve Dembo

Blogging live from FETC - Steve Dembo, from Discovery Educator Network (DEN) talking about the huge amount of information out there - Flattening of the World (The World Is Flat) that creates a level playing field for people to compete and succeed:
  1. open sourcing - people collaborating together to create tools that are comparable to stuff that is out there; doing it voluntarily. Open source version might have 1,000 people working on it. Doing it cause they want to, cause they are passionate. Tools are provided free of charge so people will use it.
  2. Steroids - the ability to access the Internet anytime, anywhere, more ways than ever to be connected in a big way.
More access to tools than we ever had before. Web 2.0.
  1. Wikinommics of learning: mass collaboration has changed everything. Curriki a curriculum project that is a wiki where they are trying to build curriculum that schools can draw upon.
  2. Perpetual beta: web 2.0 tools just keep throwing it up there, perpetual newness ongoing. Institut St. Joseph - Canadian school where students blog all the time. Their stuff is always in perpetual beta. They put a stamp on it when it is a final draft.
  3. Innovation vs. Invention - a lot of people taking what is out there and mashing them together, putting them together to invent something very cool - they are doing something innnovative with the tools. Example: Google Lit Trips.
New Ways to work: Collaborate in real time.

This creates a democratization of knowledge combined with democratization of tools to use that knowledge and create things from it. The average person can be innovative, be published, get credit for it and add it back into the body of knowledge. You don't have to publish in a major journal to have an audience anymore. This all leads to this phenomena of changes in online educational community. The community becomes my network. "MY" implies ownership - publish, comments, reader becomes contributor and collaborator.

  • Twitter: going to a community of educators and saying, What do you know? Join us.Spontaneous professional development. People are doing it because they are passionate about education; lifelong learners.
  • Classroom 2.0 - you can create own social network. You can reach your niche for your community.
  • Second Life - big learning curve, but once you get past it, it has amazing things for educators to get together and explore the tool together--how it could be used in education. People are having fun.
Native way to attend a conference:
  • live blogs
  • podcast
  • backchannel - people in the audience open up a skype chat session to talk about what's going on making connections in real time.
  • skypecast
  • twitter
  • ustream
Sharing what's happening in one place with other people, starting your own node with a web in real time, participate with people who are watching it. You can create multiple communities to fit who you are and make the connections. IF you do nothing else at a conference, continue to collaborate online when you are separate. Keep the learning ongoing. Connecting teachers to their most valuable resource - each other. Your best resource is the other people who do similar things. Nothing more valuable than building your personal learning network.

Thanks, Steve, for a very motivating presentation!

Hall Davidson @ FETC 2008: My Notes

Another person I was looking forward to hearing is Hall Davidson, the Director of Discovery Educator Network (DEN). Following are my "Blogging live" notes from his presentation:

The gist of the presentation is about html code and how easy it is to copy and paste code into applications to tailor these applications to suit your needs. It's sort of an HTML for Dummies (don't mean that in a bad way) -- in other words, all you have to know is how to find the codes and then you can paste it anywhere. Hall had a funny image of his face floating on Google Earth. Basically, you just need to be able to find the image source code to do this, just insert the code in the placemarker description box. You can also do this with videos and webcam sites.
Google Earth: you can make your face float on Google Earth by copying & pasting the code right on. Hal is having technical problems.

If you didn't know about this, check out it's google in black.

Hall says, "Copy and paste gives the kids the illusion of control.. Code can make things work better for schools."

Hall spent a lot of time talking about pasting code into ipods for students. Great idea, if your school has ipods!

Here's a good tip: Email to get a free google earth pro license for educators. Pro lets you make a movie.

FETC-Kathy Schrock - Second Life: My Notes

Yesterday I spent a full day at FETC 2008 in Orlando. I started at the early bird session with Kathy Schrock, who spoke about Second Life. According to Kathy, Second Life provides exciting opportunities for professional development. ISTE has a home in there and is very supportive for educators who need help learning their way around. They have docents who will help you. Having attempted to navigate Second Life myself, I agree with Kathy when she said that upon entering this virtual world for the first time you feel “homeless”. She said that when you first enter you are dropped off on Orientation Island, which takes you through how to do things.

Kathy also mentioned a few places in Second Life to visit, including “Virtual Starry Night,” “Global Kids,” “Second Life Pioneers” (a virtual adaptation of a webquest in which students meet immigrants and choose an immigrant character to research), and “Terra Incognita.” Terra Incognita Is from Australia and is owned by a person who is doing research on educational applications of Second Life in education. Educators can use her collaborative spaces but you must allow her to ‘observe’ for her research.

Still not sure if I have the time to tackle Second Life or if I even want to, but Kathy is certainly fired up about it!

Kathy’s presentation links are available @

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Historical and Current Abolitionists: Fighting to end slavery

Are you a high school teacher? Then you must check out Wesley Fryer's post:

If you have aspiring digital storytellers in your classroom, let them know about “The Better Hour Contest.” The deadline for entry is March 1, 2008, so they will have to get busy once school begins again in January. The available prizes are substantial, but the overarching purpose is even more impressive and important.

The Better Hour Video Contest

What was done at your school this past year to commemorate the 1807 abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in England? Do students, teachers, and others realize slavery is still a CURRENT event, and there are things they can be doing to take action and stop it?

If not you, then who? If not now, then when? Become a modern day abolitionist, and encourage your students to join you. We aren’t practicing and sharing these digital literacy skills merely to amuse and inform ourselves. We’re sharing these skills to transform the world into a better place.