Thursday, December 30, 2010

Digigogy 2010 Year In Review

New Web Stuff 12/31/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

11 Bright Ideas for 2011

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Several days ago, I asked my readers to contribute their favorite web tools to use for Instruction, and these websites made the cut! Here are 11 different web tools to use with your students either to engage and motivate, to provide alternative forms of assessment, or just to have fun with learning!

Here's to the most DIGIGOGICAL 2011 possible!

· Animoto - is a web application that creates MTV-style videos with the click of a button. It represents the end of slideshows as you know them!

· Diigo – The web’s premier bookmarking, annotating, and social service, all rolled into one!

· Dropbox - Dropbox allows you to sync your files online and across your computers automatically. Access your files anywhere, anytime, even on your mobile device!

· Edmodo - Edmodo is a social learning network for teachers, students, schools and districts.

· Glogster - Glogster EDU Premium is a collaborative online learning platform for teachers and students to express their creativity, knowledge, ideas and skills in the classroom.

· LiveBinders - "Think of Livebinders as a virtual 3 ring binder that you can put pretty much anything in. Webpage, PDF, image, video, text: they all can go into a page organized for you. Each item can be on it’s own tab or you can further organize by using sub-tabs. You can even put LiveBinders inside LiveBinders inside LiveBinders!!"
-- Melissa Edwards - The Inspired Classroom

· Prezi - Create astonishing presentations live and on the web

· Skype – Chat, Audio chat, Video Chat, Call Phones, Send Files, Share your computer Screen, share links and more with this incredible service. Connect to people all over the world!

· Storybird - Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print. Read them like books, play them like games, and send them like greeting cards. They’re curiously fun.

· WallWisher – An online corkboard! Collaboratively collect notes, pictures, links, etc. Add items the way you would add a Post-It Note to a message board!

· xTraNormal – If you can type, you can make movies! (xTraNormal State is free, and new users to the web version get 300 xpoints to make movies with!)


Sunday, December 26, 2010


To prepare for the end of the year, and to start the new year off on the right foot, I'm having a Web Tools in Learning Survey Contest! I'll use the collected information to write my last blog post of 2010!

I'm giving away 5 of the brand new DIGIGOGY 2011 Calendar Magnets to random respondents to the survey.

1 Winner will get the Traveler Media Sleeve I got at a recent conference. The sleeve pictured is an example of what it looks like, but the screen printing on the one I have reads NYSCATE and Skills Tutor, as they were the vendors that sponsored the bags! These sleeves would be great for an iPad, digital tablet, or netBook computer.
If you want to be considered for the contest, please leave your email address in the survey.

To access the SURVEY/CONTEST:

Thanks for participating and GOOD LUCK!

*Contest ends on Tuesday, December 28th at 10:00 PM EST

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Web Stuff 12/22/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Web Stuff 12/21/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Common CoreZilla: Shrink The Change!

Did you see Jurassic Park 2? There's a scene that pays homage to the old Japanese Godzilla movies where the Tyrannosaur escapes and runs down the street, with the people looking back, running away in terror.

For a lot of educators, I think the Common Core Standards and the state-specific implementation plans are a lot like that Tyrannosaur.

There are a lot of things to consider, sure, but we need to think of "shrinking the change," using a phrase from the Dan & Chip Heath book, SWITCH. A handful of 2-inch tall T-Rex's are a lot easier to deal with than their 2-story originator.

So, how do you go about it?

First, you need to look at what you've already got going for you in your districts, in your schools, even down to the classroom level:
  • Do you have curriculum models, frameworks, or maps in place that represent a child's journey through your system from K to 12?
  • Do you have regular curricular conversation both horizontally and vertically?
  • Do you prioritize based on essential skills and enduring or leveraged understandings?
  • Do the teachers in your school(s) understand multiple ways to gather assessment data, and have "agreed-upon" formative checkpoints?
  • Do you already have thematic units or genre specific models in place during the course of each grade levels curricular tracks?
  • Do you provide supplemental guidance and resources for differentiated instruction, research based instructional strategies, and professional development for teachers, especially those that teach special education or English Language Learners?
Any of these could easily be their own initiatives and last for months and months...but we don't necessarily have the gift of unlimited implementation time. BUT, if you are already doing some of these things--then you can check them off your RTTT list, and just continue doing them.

Otherwise, you need to map out a plan of attack.

At the "core" of these is student learning. To begin with, make that your focus. Then, bit by bit, starting tackling each of these components:

  1. The curricular framework or map is very important. Not only does it provide opportunities for curricular conversation and consensus, it provides a roadmap of sorts that documents what we intend as well as a diary of what actually happened. It is meant to be fully transparent, and help teachers situate themselves in the context of their colleagues. Bena Kallick (author of several books on mapping and data) talks about this when she discusses "Evidences versus Claims." It's not enough anymore to SAY what we think--we need to prove it. Having an articulated framework that shows how content and skills are related to specific assessments, and further how that impacts instructional practice, methodologies, and activities helps to enhance everyone's professional practice and build capacity around everyone's growth--students AND teachers! There are many books to help you get started with this, choosing from some of the heavy hitters in the field: Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Janet Hale, and Susan Udelhofen, just to name a few.
  2. The next thing to look at, as far as the RTTT grant is concerned is multiple ways to assess students. What are you doing now? If it's all multiple choice, objective testing, you might want to expand things a little. Standardized objective tests are often at mid and high cognitive levels, while the tests that are used to "prepare" for those tests are often at lower cognitive levels. This means that you can give practice tests every single day and still not really be preparing your students for those standardized banes of education. The RTTT grant language is asking for instruction and assessment that is more formative in nature, those assessments that don't lead to a grade, but lead to proficiency. The development of Common Assessments that are formative in nature can be explored within these resources:
3. The last big hurdle is instructional strategies, with resources and examples. Here you go:
Yes, there is still much to be overwhelmed about. You don't want the Common CoreZilla to eat you alive!

Take it one step at a time. Look at what you're already doing, make a plan to integrate the parts of the puzzle you need to improve. Add those puzzle pieces one at a time. Pretty soon, the whole metaphor of the "Dinosaur" curriculum will cease to exist, except perhaps during the elementary field trip to the local Science museum...

photo: thiagors on, remixed by M.Fisher 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Web Stuff 12/03/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Ditch The Daily Lesson Plan...

Old Schoolphoto © 2008 Rob Shenk | more info (via: Wylio)

I know this probably won’t be popular, but if I am going to continue to talk about “New Forms” in education, this needs to be on the table.

Why are teachers still doing daily lesson plans? What is the conceptual (current, 21st century) framework around this traditionally rigid process? What is encapsulated in these daily snapshots that would not be better to see in either a weekly format or perhaps something a little more open-ended? (Meaning that if the learning takes 3 days, it takes 3 days…if it takes 6, so be it. What’s more important, the learning, or the time in which we expect the learning to occur?)

I’m not saying get rid of all daily moments…assessment, anchors, general instructional arc…but the whole six point lesson plan thing seems to be a foot in the door of 1985. Or 1955.

Perhaps the terminology is dated. I often say in workshops that teachers should stop the creation of the lesson “plan” and instead create lesson “events.” That which is memorable will stick. That which is traditional and “the same as always” will almost certainly be forgotten. Yet, in many schools, the traditional is so well entrenched that anyone doing great things is suspicious and certainly shouldn’t be trusted with children. Seriously.

What do you remember about your school experiences?

The worksheets you did? The drill and skill cursive writing? No? No memory of those things?

What about those moments that weren’t the same “day in / day out” minutiae? What about the field trips you took? What about that time your teacher dressed up as Jon Bon Jovi and sang the Periodic Table to you to the tune of “You Give Love A Bad Name?” (Which you can still remember verbatim, including the atomic weight of Carbon.)

I think I’m opening several cans of worms here. For one, what does the hierarchy of lessons look like if we remove the daily lesson plan, and two, is anything singular even worth planning for?

Briefly, let me address both.

A lesson typically fits into an instructional arc or subunit, tied into an overall unit, which is housed in a year of learning. This plan seems to me to perpetuate encapsulated moments that define when learning can take place. It’s kind of like going to the doctor on a Monday morning with a broken arm and the doctor saying that he’s sorry, but broken limbs aren’t dealt with until Friday, or maybe February.

But WHAT IF (I like saying “What If…”) things weren’t so compartmentalized? What if the process for deconstructing curriculum, breaking apart standards, and precisely defining skills and methodologies was a little messier, and deleted the daily lesson plan in favor of “LESSONS” plans? We could still address common threads and connections through UNITS, but the plans themselves look at the whole neighborhood, instead of just one house. (Know what I mean?)

But then, that opens up the second can of worms. The singular content area lesson. One skill, one piece of content, one content area, one assessment…everything one at a time and separated from everything else. It’s all very neat and linear, but it seems very limiting. I have a hunch that sometime in the very near future, the definition of what a 21st Century educator is will include the total abandonment of singular content lessons. The future is in integration.

If you think about the “real world” that we’re preparing kids for, how often is the “real world” day broken up into science moments, math moments, writing moments, etc? We engage all of these things at all times. Also, it’s not like integrated units are anything innovative…there’s been tons of research and lots of books written specifically providing examples of how to do it. So why isn’t it happening? Kids don’t need a six-week unit on mastering quotation marks; they need to learn to master the quotation marks piece in the screenplay they write collaboratively about the people of Iceland solving problems around a catastrophic tectonic event that includes the gathering and analysis of quantitative data. (See what I did right there?)

There’s other cans of worms here…the reformation of assessment practices (Think Denmark! Think Japan!), the realignment of associated skills with differentiated instruction and backwards design models, the deep understanding of curriculum design – specifically prioritization and consensus anchor knowledge, the singular student / singular product mode, etc.

I’m thinking out loud here. If you’ve read this far, I hope it’s because you’ve either been inspired or angered. What are your thoughts? How do we innovate the “lesson plan?” How do we tear it down, build it up, upgrade it, dispose of it, or grow it? Or do we just keep the blinders on and hope for the best with what we’ve got?