Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Web Stuff 04/28/2010

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


Google and Youtube have added a new feature called "Search Stories."

In essence, it makes a video of a search you are doing through Google, and then posts the video to your YouTube account. (Thanks to Rob Miller for telling me about this!)

There are a LOAD of educational implications for this:
  • Here is a new way to add an enhanced component to digital storytelling.
  • This would be a great discussion starter about a topic or even the specific words needed to get the specific visuals you intend to tell the specific story you intended to tell.
  • Is another example of VISUAL searching, adding a layer of interactivity and ending up with an educational product of value. Think Robert Marzano's "Nonlinguistic Representations" or Jason Ohler's reasons for using Digital Storytelling in the Classroom as outlined in his book. The visual is VERY important to learning and engagement!
  • This could be used to create "ADS" or "DIGITAL COMMERCIALS" for content.
  • This gives students many options for interacting with content in several ways.
  • It's FUN! It's MOTIVATING! It's ENGAGING! (I talk a lot in workshops about creating "Learning Events" rather than "Lesson Plans." This is an opportunity for just that!)
  • It's simple to use and requires only the knowledge of being able to type and click a couple of choices. No Learning Curve!
If you'd like to try your hand at it: CLICK HERE!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Digigogy Magazine, Issuu 2

Tonight at Niagara University, I had the pleasure of guest lecturing on technology tools with a task specific purpose. I started the night by asking the preservice teachers who are in a Master's program to tell me about their favorite technology tool and how they would use it in the classroom. They each created a page to contribute to this month's Digigogy Magazine. This is another example of how a 21st Century tech tool could be used to create student driven assignments, assessments, or test and study materials. Thanks to the students in Brian Scully's methodology class for their contributions!

New Web Stuff 04/23/2010

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Need an idea for a New Form, an authentic task, or just an upgrade to your current methodology?

Have your students write a grant!

If you've seen Heidi Hayes Jacobs speak recently, or read some of the things she's written online lately, you know that she is advocating for curriculum upgrades in the form of "out of the box" thinking. She's discussed what other teachers are doing, she's discussed writing screenplays, and she's discussed writing grants. Specifically, the STUDENTS writing grants.

What better way to write for an authentic purpose for an audience that students may have never considered before?

A couple of resources came across my network in the last couple of days that I wanted to share to help you develop this with your students.

  1. From the Today Show this morning, a resource was shared from the PEPSI company called THE PEPSI REFRESH PROJECT. They are funding ideas that will make a difference to our local or global communities.
  2. GRANT WRANGLER is a one stop resource for teachers writing grants. You can search by content area, or type a key word, such as TECHNOLOGY, into the search box for relevant results. I noticed there were several good technology grants available that have due dates in mid-May.
  3. Here's a resource from TEACHER TAP about the Grant Writing Process with resources and a getting started section.

From Education World on Grants:


The following sites offer resources that can help you locate appropriate sources of funding for your project.

  • School Grants Center Education World offers the latest information about current education grants.
  • Discretionary Grant Application Packages The U.S. Government offers this clickable list of application packages for currently open Department of Education grant competitions.
  • Grants and Programs The National Education Association Foundation for the Improvement of Education offers information, guidelines, and other resources related to grants the foundation administers.
  • The Foundation Center This site for non-governmental funding resources offers both print and online resources for a subscription fee.
  • Community Foundation Locator This tool identifies tax-exempt charitable organizations in your community that are possible sources of grants.
With lots of testing coming up soon and teachers looking for some great ideas for continuing the learning process through the end of school after the tests--here are some great opportunities to do high level work, but with a specific purpose!

reposted from the Curriculum21 Ning

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teachers: What You Can Do If You've Been Laid Off

In the wake of all the craziness around our economic climate, many folks in education are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. And without a job.

This is not the time to sit around and wait for something to happen. This is the time to MAKE something happen.

Here are some ideas:

Get involved with Twitter and other Social Networks, like ASCD Edge, Blogs, Nings, etc. Integrating yourself into these networks works for you in multiple ways. For one, it gives you a continuous feed of resources to help hone your professional practice, whether you're in the classroom or not. It also allows opportunities for you to interact and strategize with people that are either in the same boat as you or at least have similar experiences. Additionally, I've gotten jobs just from participating in these networks. You can too.

Create an online portfolio, with visual (meaning photos) and concrete evidence of:
  • Planning and Preparation - This includes Lesson Plans you've created, evidence of assessments you've created that are aligned with state standards (both summative and formative!), statements and reflections about instructional design and your knowledge of content and resources.
  • The Classroom Environment you create - Evidence may include your student management/procedures plan, photos of the layout of your classroom with a statement about why you set it up that way, statements about how you create respect and rapport with your students, and how you manage student behavior.
  • Instruction and Assessment - You need to provide examples of student work (with names whited out) with feedback about what next steps should be, how you support questioning techniques in your classroom and how you help students arrive at connections or bring collective experiences together, how you provide opportunities for multiple groupings and collaborative/peer interactions, and statements about how you are flexible and adaptable to many different situations both with students and with those you work with.
  • Professional Responsibilities - You should provide evidence that you have participated in professional development, with statements about how that PD informed or transformed your instructional practice. You should provide evidence of parent communication that is beyond report cards. You should provide evidence that you make contributions to your school and the district in which you work and that you are a reflective practitioner. (Meaning that you think about lessons, students, opportunities, your whole teaching experience, and make plans for transforming your practice on a regular basis.)

More about the Framework for Professional Practice on Charlotte Danielson's homepage.

You could use a wiki or a WIX website to easily put this together.

Make sure you are on the sub lists of all the schools in your area. A day of pay is better than a day of being a coach potato wallowing in wishes. Subbing also gives you an opportunity to network in other school systems, and get valuable experience about different school dynamics and diverse student populations.

Consider the breadth of your expertise and be a consultant. Vistaprint offers free business cards and there are multiple places to create a web presence to talk about what you are good at and could contribute to education. I would suggest reading books by Jim Knight about Instructional Coaching, or Doug Reeves on providing PD with student results. Many of the local teacher's centers here in New York are actively looking for folks to lead workshops. You need a solid plan in an area of need, and you're good to go!

Go back to school or add additional certificate areas. The more educational experience you have and the more certificates you have, the more valuable you are. If you can survive in several niches, versus being pigeonholed in one area/grade level, you make it easier for a district to keep you in the event of layoffs.

Consider tutoring at home. Create a business card at Vistaprint and/or advertise in your local paper about your services. Many parents are on the lookout for qualified afterschool instructors--what would be better than a certified teacher?

Keep in mind the story of the Little Engine That Could. If you think you can, then you will. This is a hard time for many, but it is definitely not the time to lose your motivation. Try to stay positive and make small steps to improving your outlook, your value, and ultimately, your opportunities. This is a time to shine, to emit a light that everyone can see. Visibility is everything right now.

image made with BigHugeLabs Motivational Poster application and Windows Vista default "Dock" image.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Web Stuff 04/19/2010

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


Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ new book, Curriculum 21, outlines the need to change education—not just for the sake of change, but for the sake of growth, meeting the needs of the 21st Century learner.

What she describes in the book is “New Forms,” meaning that “RE-forms” aren’t what we need. We can’t just slap a new coat of paint on an old model—we need a NEW MODEL.

This weekend, I had the privilege of seeing this in action at the New York State Destination Imagination tournament in Binghamton, New York. Destination Imagination is the world’s leading creative problem solving program. Students are given a task for which they must develop a creative solution for, using very little money. They also have months to develop, create, and ultimately perform their solutions with their peers.

There are no worksheets involved. There are no desks. There are no bounds.

Everything that is beyond tradition is what is valued, and the learning that takes place is unbelievable.

I talk often in workshops about the need to create lesson “EVENTS” versus lesson “PLANS.” The difference being what kids will remember after the lesson is over. When you ask students at the end of a school year what they remember the most about their learning, what do they say? They remember opportunities that were above and beyond the mundane: field trips, special projects, and special opportunities—anything that was different.

We are wired to pay attention to those differences, but we are also wired to appreciate “automatic pilot” where our need to develop habitual behaviors overrides the responsibility we have to be innovative and really shape a learning path for students who live and breath a world that is wholly different than the ones we learned in as children.

As an appraiser for Destination Imagination, and the improvisational challenge called “Do or D.I.” where students were given random scenarios to act out based on months of research about endangered things and particular character types, I got to see multiple iterations of how a group of students deconstructs a problem and constructs a solution.

During the course of the day, I was wowed and amazed, sometimes jaw-droppingly so, by creative visualizations of Octopi, Boats, a desk, a revolving door, a recliner, a motorboat—all using only human props. I was introduced to new things I didn’t know about Pitcher Plants, Giant Pandas, The Yiddish Language and more.

I was simultaneously ecstatic and depressed about what I saw. Ecstatic that there were schools and teachers that valued this “out of the box” learning method, and depressed that it was seen as an extracurricular activity, and not taken seriously as a classroom-level, research-based methodology for learning.

When I talked to the students after each performance, or heard students talking in the halls during the course of the day, there was a resounding theme. They were having FUN. They learned so much, and put so much of themselves into their creative solutions that the learning became a by-product of the experience.

This is what a NEW FORM looks like. This is what a NEW FORM means.

Out of the box.
Out of the classroom.
Out of the traditional mode.

NEW FORMS mean the creation of Learning EVENTS with built in intrinsic value.

Oh, and by the way, congratulations to the New York teams. The sense of camaraderie and the overwhelming display of hard work and creativity made every single student a winner in my book. What I saw yesterday was A.W.E.S.O.M.E!

P.S. I didn’t mention the computer at all in this post. 21st Century Learning isn’t necessarily about tech tools. It’s about thinking, connections, problem solving, and collaboration. Technology might assist in those objectives, but they are just tools to enhance a process.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time Machines...

Pictures used are from Flickr:


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

10,000 Tweets!

I’m writing this to coincide with my 10,000th Tweet on Twitter.

I’ve been using Twitter for around 3 years now and consider it my lifeline for resources. I use it as a shared resource repository where I can not only find relevant resources, but also network with educational professionals all over the world.

I’ve had the very good fortune to meet a lot of the “Twitterati” in my network in school systems and at conferences and I’m grateful for the valuable conversations we are able to have!

Here are a selection of some of my “favorited” tweets in the last few months:

And here are a few of the valuable members of my network:


Thanks to all who make my Twitter experience worthwhile and engaging!