May 3, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Collaboration, Global Collaboration, Literacy, Podcasts, Resources, Web2.0 | 1 Comment
Tags: 80Schools collaboration, David Carpenter, ISTE NETs, Jeff Utecht, Julie Lindsay, Justin Medved, Langwitches, SOS podcast, Sylvia Tolisano, Wes Fryer
I’ve collaborated with other schools recently as a tech-facilitator and before now for over 15 or more years as an elementary classroom teacher through email, wikis, blogs, Voicethread and Skype. However, Silvia Tolisano’s Around the World with 80 Schools collaboration I’m participating in now is different in that a template for participation and participant network was already established when I began. Also important is it’s ideal for the teachers I work with who are new to global/online collaboration because the community and template were established and the time commitment allows for easy integration into the established classroom environment. The framework is flexible enough to allow many conversations or a few a year and classroom-based participation or school-wide as we are doing. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to expand my PLN through the contacts I am making while setting up conversations for classrooms. Most of all, the students are excited, engaged and they raise questions for further learning that wouldn’t have occurred to me.
So, why participate? Why make the minimal effort to have a short conversation with students in a class on another continent? For me, the answer is that the students and I feel lifted up, engaged, and want to know more about what our new friends know and think about our world. The social interaction and connection is stimulating. But not all educators are on the same path- what is passionately clear to me is not for everyone, so I feel the responsibility to ask Why? to be able to effectively express my point of view to those who aren’t “in the choir.”
I can start by again sharing the ISTE NETs standards, but these are a bit broad for a starting point.
I wanted to refer to conversations and research so I started with Silvia’s post where she shares the project and links to other related posts she’s written.
I then decided to re-listen to SOS Podcast 2: How does making connections affect learning? With David Carpenter, Jeff Utecht, and guests Justin Medved and Julie Lindsay. Here are a few of the thoughts I came away with:
-Students know how to use tech for entertainment and communication but not as well to communicate and collaborate for learning.
-How well do we value and allow process, sharing and reflection of learning?
-Collaborations create an authentic audience that engages kids in the learning process
-Students can learn how to collaborate globally (as they will no doubt be doing in their future) by doing it.
-Start with the end in mind and if we believe in these 21st Century outcomes we need to redesign what we are doing with our curriculum.
I also found a Wes Fryer post from 2 years ago(!)
Wes shared quotes from Google CEO Eric Schmidt when asked in a WIRED interview, “Google’s revenue and employee head count have tripled in the last two years. How do you keep from becoming too bureaucratic or too chaotic?
His response: It’s a constant problem. We analyze this every day, and our conclusion is that the best model remains small teams running as fast as they can and tolerating a certain lack of cohesion. The attempt to provide order drives out the creativity. And so it’s a balance.
To this Wes reflected, “The lesson here is that the business world does not merely want to hire listeners and fact regurgitators, but rather thinkers who can collaborate, “run fast” and create innovative ideas which reflect both higher level thinking as well as creativity.”
The SOS podcast was recorded a little over a year ago and Wes’s post was written 2 years ago. While progress is being made and I am inspired every day from contact with those in my PLC, I am also impatient because it seems we’re still just discussing these issues and stalled in this regard in most schools.
As a classroom teacher I would use 80 Schools from the first week of school. First begin to explore the talents and interests of each person in the room but also introduce the classrooms we have access to and the possibilities of interaction with the individuals in those rooms. An 80 Schools Ning and Twitter group would be a great way to share what classes are studying and experiencing that would be beneficial topics for other classrooms. I can see it as a living, thriving collaboration for the entire year.
Finally, just as I have a PLNetwork or PLCommunity, students in a classroom should be growing their own as well- the network within and outside the classroom walls. We need CLNs- Classroom Learning Networks and our 80 Schools collaboration is the first example of a CLN that I have participated in.
April 22, 2009 at 10:14 am | Posted in Collaboration, Links, Podcasting, Podcasts, Professional Development, Resources, Web2.0 | 2 Comments
Tags: Audacity, Ewan McIntosh, Podcasts, Professional Development, RSS, Seedlings
I’ve just returned from a stimulating walk/run to and around Retiro Park. It’s a beautiful spring day, paths not too crowded and as I took in some physical exercise I was working my mind as well listening to podcasts on my iPod. I love this and have been doing it for years, on the way to school, around the track at Dover High School, on the gym treadmill, along the beach and now around Retiro Park. It’s a great combination- simultaneous mind and body exercise.
But I didn’t start with the exercise. I started with a Podcasting workshop three years ago using Audacity. It was easy to do and fun and I was psyched to use it immediately in my grade 3 classroom. So I searched online for examples of podcasting in other classrooms for inspirational ideas. I found Bob Sprankle’s Room208 podcast- one of the best uses of podcasting I’ve ever found. Bob also kept a blog sharing how he podcasts and other related educational insights. Around that time he also started the Seedlings podcasts with Cheryl Oakes and Alice Barr, two other Maine educators. I recommend going into the archives and listen to all the Bit by Bit and Seedlings podcasts.
Anyway, while walking today I was listening to the WholeChildEducation.org podcasts. I’ll have to save many of the brilliant ideas I heard for other posts, but the main points that stood out today are:
• “Learning is the constant, time is the variable”- in other words we need to focus on best practices for student learning, not on schedules. We also need to move to authentic, integrated learning.
• Education, schools and caring for our children can best be improved by engaging the community- parents, businesses, teens, and citizens. Everyone needs to get on board. (I also heard this point emphasized by Ewan McIntosh at a workshop in London recently.)
I found the WholeChild podcasts from @Keytech on Twitter who posted this, “EBOOK Engaging the Whole Child: Reflections on Best Practices in Learning, Teaching, and Leadership FREE at
But back to podcasts and personal learning. Professionally, I was a lurker for a long time, listening and soaking up ideas and experiences. When I gradually began engaging with others by commenting on blogs and contributing through this blog and on Twitter last summer I moved from a listener/reader to an engaged member of my personal learning network.
As a teacher, after that first workshop I immediately began a podcast with my students. The best thing that came from using podcasting in the classroom was my reluctant writers began asking to stay in at recess to finish writing a story or article that they wanted to record and upload to our site. Writing and speaking became integrated regularly into all subjects and I was holding writing mini-lessons during content area activities.
As a listener, I subscribe to several podcasts so that when new recordings are uploaded, they are automatically downloaded to my iTunes library and then synced to my iPod.
There are many podcasts I listen to, but these are my top favorites:
Room208 Bob Sprankle’s class podcasts
Seedlings and Bit by Bit
SOS Podcast, OnDeck Podcast
K12 online Conf workshops (NECC for example- in fact, anytime a conference records and shares workshops/keynotes, it’s free PD)
Notes from Spain, A Year in Europe (both are currently not updating, but all worth a listen)
NPR: This American Life, This I Believe, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
Audio Books purchased and downloaded from iTunes Store (I recently listened to Bram Stoker’s Dracula during a winter trip around central Europe)
Please recommend/share your favorite podcasts!
March 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Posted in Blogging, Conference, games, Games-based learning, Links, Podcasts, Presentations, Professional Development, Resources, Web2.0 | 4 Comments
Tags: Bit by Bit, blogs, Chris Chater, Ewan McIntosh, games, Guitar Hero, inspiration, Julie Lindsay, Kim Cofino, London ECIS IT conf09, Myst, Nintendogs, Podcasts, Seedlings, Silvia Tolisano
After Ewan McIntosh‘s keynote at the London ECIS IT conference I attended recently, I decided to attend all his workshops. His views on the use of technology make so much sense to me- we have these technological advancements in our world and why not harness their power to create better schools and communities? In my notes from one of his workshops I wrote a quote, “It’s not about technology, it’s about changing someone’s life a bit.” That really summed it up for me. It’s all about joining the conversation, contributing, engaging our students in meaningful learning experiences.
Here are a few inspiring examples from Ewan:
Most of what I’ve learned and applied regarding tech use in education are from these sources of inspiration:
Bit by Bit and Seedlings blog and podcasts:
After my first taste of digital audio recording and editing for publication, I found Bob Sprankle’s class blog and podcasts. I’ve been following Bob, Alice and Cheryl ever since.
Chris Chater- Elementary music teacher extraordinaire and very nice guy. We connected years ago and collaborate and have become friends over the years.
Kim Cofino, Siliva Tolisano and Julie Lindsay- Tech Educators who inspire me. I think they are super-human as they seem to have more hours in the day than the rest of us based on their capacity to share and organize collaborations.
Who inspires you?
January 28, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Planning, Podcasts, Shift | 3 Comments
Tags: future, NPR, Planning, Shift, This American Life
Recently on Twitter, a few of us were tweeting on the idea that we should create a dream school,
“@jplaman Our dream school begins w/@intrepidteacher, @nancyvonw, @murcha, @tgalvez, @frznguru, @amichetti, @rhondacarrier Now we need $$! Jan 13th”(message from @mscofino)
As an elementary teacher and now as EdTech Specialist, I’ve always felt things can be done better, in the manner that my self and life can be “done better”- there’s always room for improvement. And this morning I was listening to a podcast of NPR’s This American Life: Numbers, Episode 88- in particular, Act Four “Will Powers-his real name-decided to try to use all the tools of modern brand marketing to sell himself to his own wife. It turned out to help their marriage.”
The story is about principles of brand loyalty and how to achieve it. Will is asked by his boss to do an exercise where he markets himself to someone he knows personally using all the principles of brand marketing. He chose his wife and asked her to come up with a list of attributes of a good husband. Then he asked her about the attributes, asking her how he can show and follow through on those attributes. She gave examples and then he did a “brand ladder” where questions asked of customers reveal the basic desires and feelings they gain from a basic, external quality.
While listening to this story I thought, this is where we can start to envision more effective, relevant schools; by asking students what conditions and events are in place when they are learning happily and effectively. I realize that randomly asking a list of questions would most likely not work, but rather starting (or continuing) to reflect more with our class, groups, individual students would yield some responses from students, particularly when an activity, project, lesson goes well. For example, Laura has been trying to understand place value for awhile and one day the light bulb illuminates- that would be the time to reflect personally as an observer and also ask Laura, What was the tipping point just now, what opened the door?
When I was in the classroom I often reflected with students at the end of a unit or when an activity went very well or poorly. The problem is that with schedules and curricular pressures this reflection was often placed down on the list of things to do. So I plan to start prioritizing reflection with students whenever possible. I also plan to start asking myself, as an educator and learner, what conditions and process help me learn and help me teach effectively?
To @jplaman, @intrepidteacher, @mscofino, @murcha, @tgalvez, @frznguru, @amichetti, @rhondacarrier … I also think we need to solidify this group and set up a place to share our ideas and revelations!
November 17, 2008 at 7:24 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Conference, Global Collaboration, Links, Planning, Podcasts, Presentations, Professional Development, Resources, Video conferences, Voicethread | 1 Comment
Tags: after-school group, collaboration VoiceThread, ELL, ESL, Global Collaboration, MAIS conference, Podcasts, presentation, Silvia Tolisano, video conf, Voicethread
Like a picture coming into focus, the past week and a half have been very gratifying professionally- mainly due to connections I’ve made with local and distant educators.
Reaching Out Off-Campus After last minute changes (due to reading Presentation Zen) to my presentation of educational uses of VoiceThread, I gave my presentation to a wonderful group of teachers at the MAIS conference. Afterwards, there was more discussion and connections made. One sample VoiceThread from our ESL teacher that I shared led to a new collaboration between she and a teacher in Barcelona. Also at the conference, the job-alike session contained some interesting discussion and a new connection. Also last week, I participated in a videoconference with teachers in Jacksonville, FL as part of Silvia’s K12 Online LAN party and was able to meet and speak directly with a first grade teacher we hope to collaborate with. And speaking of the K12 Online conference, I’m still enjoying the workshop podcasts while traveling to and from school and on long walks around Madrid- although it’s a challenge to write down quotes and thoughts that arise while listening!
Reaching Out on Campus While I didn’t meet with my after-school group last week due to a holiday and parent conference day, I did work with colleagues during the after-school open lab. I was also invited by two teachers to help create integrated activities/projects for upcoming units of study and will meet with blogging classes this week to continue with comments and new posts. One day was spent totally away from my desk in classrooms and meetings for ongoing new projects. This was all very welcome after spending weeks preparing for the NWEA MAP tests in the lab, two weeks of which I was closed in the lab as test proctor.
My Little Tribe I am loving my after-school group and the growing toolbox we are developing. We’ve shared on our blog through written posts with images, PPT slideshows, and are currently working on Camtasia movies to create online game reviews. Also, this week we start a videoconference friendship with Ms. Bunyi’s class in Tennessee. We have VoiceThread creations and podcasts coming up as well.
May 6, 2008 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Links, Podcasts, Professional Development, Scratch, Tech Integration, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
Tags: comment08, inspiration, Podcasts, Scratch, Seedlings podcast, SOS podcast
As an edtech instructional specialist, it often feels as if in order to “do my job” I am trying to push colleagues down paths they don’t want to travel. It’s also tempting to fall into that “glass half empty” frame of mind. In order to feel successful on a daily basis, I make every effort to focus on how full the glass is each day.
Yesterday I listened to 2 podcasts that had a lot in common. One from Jeff and David in On Deck Podcasts, Celebrating Shifted Teachers and the latest Seedlings @Bit by Bit podcast from Maine. Both podcasts provided the encouragement and focus I needed for a Monday and I’ll save them as favorites for the rainy days.
In Seedlings, Bob shares his use of Scratch with fourth grade students. As he begins telling about his process to introduce Scratch, he relates that he decided that he would not be the expert in the room, but rather proposed that the students discover how to use the program. He realizes that some students will always exceed his skill levels, that they can identify and work through problems with his help as facilitator and guide. To create an environment where students can feel challenged and successful is so empowering! They do need us for guidance and presenting challenges, but we don’t need to “always be the smartest person in the room.”
Jeff and David “celebrate the teachers in their schools who are making the shift. No philosophical discussion tonight, just concrete and practical instructional strategies.”
Again I find it would be so lonely without the network of like-minded educators out here who inspire and encourage me!