Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Web Stuff 12/01/2010

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

BLOG SLAM! (Another update to "Is Anybody Asking the Kids?")

Why incentives don't work in education—or the business worldphoto © 2010 opensource.com | more info (via: Wylio)

There is nothing more exhilarating to me as a teacher than seeing students do incredible things. When they are engaged and full of passion, they do really great work.

Several weeks ago, I blogged about whether anyone was considering what the kids thought of education today. I asked students in an online survey to answer some questions about the state of things. I received a bunch of responses and wrote a follow up blog post with the findings of the survey. A group of students in North Carolina really felt empowered by the opportunity to share their voices, that they decided to take things one step further and create a digital representation of the changes they’d like to see!


I had been in conversation with their teacher about having one of them “guest blog” for me, but I’m so impressed with what they’ve created, I’m posting ALL OF THEM here. Everyone who reads this blog needs to see what kids can do when they are inspired.

These kids articulated the need for NEW FORMS in education, not just reforms. They want flexible scheduling, flexible spaces, flexible groupings, learning that matches their interests and is authentic. They do not want to be receptacles for information, in fact, one of them said to just “give him the basics” and let him figure the rest out on his own.

Within the scope of what they did, they engaged in 21st Century skills—they communicated with each other, they collaborated in both the creation and feedback phases, and, oh yeah, they used technology—but for a specific task, not just because the tech was cool and shiny. (Even though it was!)

When I work with teachers, and talk to them about activities like this, there are always those that say this can’t happen in a real classroom, because they only have time to prepare the students for a test. I say take a look at what these kids have done here and consider the ramifications in the instructional sequence. Perhaps this type of instruction works above and beyond the curriculum, so that the kids are ready for any test at any moment? (And let’s not confuse testing with assessment…though that is its own blog post…)

Just from what I see here, I can assess:

- writing processes

- grammar

- continuity of a story arc

- idea development

- ability to stay on topic

- other peripheral skills related to teamwork, technology, etc.

So if you ask me where this fits in the standards…there it is. Which is going to engage kids more: opportunities like this or a five-paragraph essay? How am I REALLY going to know that learning has occurred and can be developed in individual and meaningful ways? A product like this, or a twenty question objective test that matches the state assessment? (Though I’m not saying that objective tests can’t measure what we want them to measure, but I AM saying they are boring in comparison.)

I want to give GIGANTIC kudos to these students, these scholars—who took an idea and ran with it for the sake of their own interest and passion. I encourage all of my readers to read and comment on what these students have done using popular Web 2.0 tools like GoAnimate and Storybird. These students wrote scripts, poems, narratives – and then kicked that work up a notch into the 21st Century.

Way to go! Every single student listed here is the pinnacle of AWESOME!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Three Little Students...

Three little pigsphoto © 2009 my_southborough | more info (via: Wylio)

Once upon a time, a time in the present, there were three little students, Olivia, Ryan, and Casey.

One sunny day, they decided to set out and learn something new. Their mother warned them to be careful and to watch out for students that might be better prepared than them.

They told their mother not to worry and set off on their learning adventure.

The first little student, Olivia, met a teacher with an armful of pencils. Olivia asked, “Can you teach me something?”

“Of course,” said the teacher, passing Olivia a pencil and a worksheet.

Olivia happily filled in the worksheet and passed it back to the teacher, who smiled, and said, “Very good job, Olivia. You got 90% of the questions correct. You are a great student. You would do well to go to college.”

Satisfied, Olivia walked away.

Soon, she came upon another student who said she was on her way to college. She asked Olivia if she would like to go with her. Olivia went.

At the college, they discovered that there was only room for one of them. Olivia was confident that she would be chosen, since she’d done so well with her teacher earlier. The people at the college interviewed both Olivia and the other student, gave them several types of tests, and looked at all of the learning they’d done in the past.

Confident as she was, Olivia was not prepared, and did not get into college.

And so she ran away…

The second little student, Ryan, met a teacher with an armful of electronic equipment. Ryan asked, “Can you teach me something?”

“Of course,” said the teacher, passing Ryan an iPod, a netbook, a scientific calculator, and a project packet.

Ryan happily completed the project in moments and gave everything back to the teacher, who smiled, and said, “Very good job, Ryan. I hope you had fun with the iPod and the netbook. You were very well behaved. You are a great student and you would do well to go to college.”

Satisfied, Ryan walked away.

Soon, he came upon another student who said he was on his way to college. He asked Ryan if he would like to go with him. Ryan went.

At the college, they discovered that there was only room for one of them. Ryan was confident that he would be chosen, since he’d done so well with his teacher earlier. The people at the college interviewed both Ryan and the other student, gave them several types of tests and asked them to solve problems with various types of technology.

Confident as he was, Ryan was only prepared to access information, not make connections and build something new from it, and he did not get into college.

And so he ran away…

The third little student, Casey, met a teacher who carried nothing. Casey asked, “Can you teach me something?”

“Of course,” said the teacher, passing Casey an object he had never seen before.

“What is it?” Casey asked.

“That is what you will learn,” his teacher said.

Casey was unsure of what to do next, but decided he should look online for pictures that were similar to his object. He asked his teacher if he could use a computer, and his teacher helped him find one. Casey thought it would be a good idea to talk to other students in faraway lands to see if they had seen a similar object. His teacher helped him connect. Casey looked in books, made notes, compared his notes with others trying to discover what the mystery object was, and drew conclusions based on the information he collected.

The teacher asked Casey what he learned, and Casey was able to tell the teacher much more than just the identity of the mystery object. “You would do well to go to college,” the teacher told Casey.

Satisfied, Casey walked away.

Soon, he came upon another student who said he was on his way to college. He asked Casey if he would like to go with him. Casey went.

At the college, they discovered that there was only room for one of them. Casey knew he had done well with his previous learning, but was wary about what this other student might know.

The people at the college interviewed both Casey and the other student, gave them several types of tests, and asked them to describe what they would do if they suddenly discovered a new species of animals.

Casey used all of his skills for communication, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking and impressed the people at the college. He was rewarded for his skills by being asked to come to the college to continue his learning.

Years later, Casey went to visit his mother, and it happened that both his brother Ryan and sister Olivia had had the same idea. Each of the students told their mother of their travels. Olivia and Ryan were surprised to learn that Casey had been admitted to college.

Their mother, hearing their stories, said, “there was a time when filling a pail was a good idea, but as easily as I can pour water into a pail, I can just as easily pour it out.”

“Learning doesn’t happen to you, it happens in you,” she continued, “and real learning sparks a fire that ignites every idea for the rest of your life.”

Casey held on to his chinny chin-chin and smiled.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Digigogy's Favorite Things

For the holidays, I've put together some of my favorite holiday web tools and resources. Just click on the ornaments and enjoy!

Free website - Powered By Wix.com

Included in this year's list is:
  • Hotprints - Make your own photo books FOR FREE! (Just pay shipping!)
  • 99 Christmas Classics for $1.99 from Amazon.com
  • Make your own snowglobe - Directions from About.com
  • Elf Yourself - The every year internet favorite from Office Max!
  • NorthPole.com – includes sending a letter to Santa
  • 20 Holiday Cards for $1.99 from VistaPrint - and additional cards for 1/2 price! (I just ordered these and they are AWESOME!)
  • Augmented Reality Christmas (Click on Instructions when you get to the page) - I'm adding this to our Christmas Cards this year!
  • Personalized Christmas Photo Gifts - A good friend, Katie H., sent this to me and it has lots and lots of different types of photo gifts!

Everybody knows a few web tools and resources,
Help to make the season bright...
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Digigogy Holiday to you ...


Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Web Stuff 11/07/2010

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

La Globalización Primaria Habilidad Digital

T2i - Happy with Global Warming?photo © 2010 Doug Wheller | more info(via: Wylio)

La Globalización Primaria Habilidad Digital

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally written in English and translated to Spanish using Google Translate. While there may be grammatical and syntax errors, especially if re-translating back to English, the overall message should remain intact.

¿Qué tipo de competencias digitales tienes? ¿Utiliza las habilidades para invitar al mundo a su clase o su mundo un solo idioma-céntrico que puede que no tenga sea invitado? ¿Enseña a sus alumnos qué hacer cuando se encuentran con algo en línea que pueden ser escritos en un idioma que no lo sé, pero sigue siendo una valiosa información?

Traductor Google está haciendo una gran cantidad de aulas aplanamiento posible. Es fácil interactuar con otros lenguajes e interpretar el texto de todo el mundo. Podemos comunicarnos con casi cualquier persona en el planeta en cualquier momento en muchos formatos multimedia. El lenguaje no es la barrera de lo que solía ser!

El uso de Google Translate, usted y sus estudiantes pueden:

· Idiomas Traducir muchas instante, aumentando enormemente la cantidad de información que puede interactuar con Internet.
· Comunicar con los demás que hablan idiomas diferentes.
· Búsqueda de noticias e información en diferentes idiomas y en diferentes países y obtener una perspectiva diferente a lo que los medios de comunicación se informa en los Estados Unidos.

Cuando te encuentras con texto que no entiendo, qué tan probable es que lo desestime, o traducir esto? ¿Qué información importante podría estar perdiendo por no participar en esta competencia digital?

Friday, November 5, 2010

How can we do more with less?

In the last few workshops I’ve done with teachers, there has been an underlying theme of, “this is great, but my reality is…” And then they fill in the blank about their personal roadblocks or hurdles that must be overcome in order to do this or that to improve their professional practice.

I’m thinking about this more and more in terms of differentiated professional development. I want to have an impact on practice, I want teachers to see the application to their own work, and ultimately, I want the work I do to have an impact on children and their achievement.

All too often, though, conversations start with the “haves and have nots.” When those conversations start, it makes me wonder what the “haves” really have, and if the “have nots” have really considered the scope of what they DO have?

A lot of times, the “have nots” perspectives are situational and are more about a tool or a perceived deficit of resources than an instructional task.

So what do you do? How does a teacher do more with less? How do we design motivating and engaging learning events using the resources we have?
  • More students, less teachers? Start thinking about more group/peer opportunities. Perhaps you could apply the framework for Writer’s Workshop to other content areas, and have “workshop time” where you, as the teacher, are able to work with individuals and small groups while others work from a menu of options independently or in small groups.
  • Not enough materials for projects? Think of the mantra of the “Destination Imagination” program: How can we be creative and in what ways can we be creative? The emphasis for any project should be creating evidence that learning occurred. As the teacher—you don’t have to be the director of the creativity around this—the students would probably LOVE to be a part of this design conversation. Let them brainstorm resources and products and see what they come up with!
  • Don’t have a Flip Cam? Did you know that most digital cameras have a video setting? Record your video and edit in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. You can make quality videos with older technology that will look exactly like the videos made with newer technologies.
  • Limited space? Think of this in terms of what Heidi Hayes Jacobs calls “New Forms” in her book, Curriculum 21. The traditional classroom is not the ONLY place where students can learn. Anything you can do to change up the environment is good for learning. The brain tends to remember anytime there are differences in what it does. I would speculate, in fact, that staying in one classroom every single day is BAD for learning. What other spaces are available at school? Auditorium? Back Field? Hallway? Corner of the gym? Library? Separate spaces for different groups for different purposes? Move the desks and have kids sit together on floor? Perhaps talk with another teacher and change your groupings? Talk to admin/faculty about shifting schedules to maximize space and time! Be creative—your students will appreciate it!
  • Limited instructional time? Little time for tech integration? Think about shifting your mindset that teaching and learning has to occur just in within the scope of your classroom. You can extend your classroom online using blogs, wikis, or other social technologies. You could ask your students other ways they can engage, connect, and continue learning beyond your four walls—whether or not it involves technology. (Afterschool, Planning Time, “Working Lunches,” etc. Just remember to give yourself the time you need to prepare for all!)
  • Additionally, think of the resources you need in terms of whether or not those resources are necessary for a project or activity that is no longer relevant. Doing something for 10 years in a row isn’t the greatest justification for continuing to do it. If the activity is a good one and still has relevance, consider updating/upgrading it – especially in terms of current resources, both physical and virtual. If it’s just a comfort thing, and after critical reflection doesn’t really provide the evidence of learning that it should, cut it from your program and find alternative activities within the resources you have!

The point is to start shifting thinking around what you have to work with, and not worrying about what you don’t have. The creativity with which you approach instructional design is way more important than the resources and tools. Socrates didn’t have a Flip cam or iPad—and he did alright! Effective teachers are effective because they know their students, maximize the resources they have, and collaborate with their colleagues. All of these characteristics enable every teacher to do the best they can with what they’ve got!

Please feel free to add your own ideas. The best thing we can do as educators is to share. Our collective ideas help to level the playing field and flatten the world!