Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spread the Word to End the "R" Word

Today, a good friend and local blogger, Laura Stockman, is holding a "Blog Carnival" in an effort to ban the use of the "R" word. This is an innovative idea to use blogs to connect multiple people around a particular topic. I really like when folks find creative uses to connect and network with Web 2.0 tools!

For today's blog post, the "R" word that Laura is referring to is "RETARD or RETARDED."

How often do many of us thoughtlessly use the word? How often have we personally been hurt by words like this? When we use words like this in anger or ignorance, what message are we sending to those that may be developmentally disabled? Or those that we may influence with our choice of words?

I know that personally, with a daughter who is repeating everything her mother and I say right now (she's 2); I want to be very careful about what words she hears, lest she think that words like the "R" word are appropriate. We lead by example, we teach by our actions.

Since this is a blog about educational technology, I thought I would use one of my favorite tools, WORDLE, to show you some other words that you could use instead of the "R" word:

What changes can you make? You can stop using the "R" word. You can tell others that you don't like the word. You can be an advocate for those with development disabilities.

And you can visit these internet resources for more information!

A Poster to Print to Help Spread the Word


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Goodbye Google, Hello Delicious and Diigo!

Recently, in staff development workshops, I’ve been sharing “FOCUSED SEARCHING” with teachers. Instead of doing internet searches using Google, I’ve been searching for the same topics in Delicious and Diigo and getting focused and relevant results.

For instance, during a workshop demonstration, I searched for “ Six Traits” in Google and got over 11,000,000 results.

The same search in Delicious found 247 results and Diigo netted 22 results.

The main point here is that “Focused Searching” through social bookmarking tools reveals sites that actual people are using, versus just searching for the occurrence of a word or phrase regardless of context.

Another reason to celebrate Social Bookmarking!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ripple Effects...

The downturn in the economy is beginning to rear its ugly head in other places. Specifically--our new digital frontier is being disrupted and in some cases, cut down completely.

In December, a popular tool called MixWit was shut down, unceremoniously with a brief email to participants that gave a week's notice before it was a done deal. This past weekend, Lookybook.com's site redirected to a page that said it was finished as well.

As a staff developer, I'm using a lot of these "Web 2.0" tools with teachers to help them enhance their practice and to help motivate and engage their students. But what happens when those tools disappear?

Nothing should happen.

Without sounding callous or flippant, the disappearance of these tools and the subsequent ripple effects underscores the fact that learning is never about any particular tool--it's been, and always has been, about the content and skills that teachers are teaching. While its a sad thing that these cool tools are slipping away, good teaching can still continue to happen without them. Something else will come along to take the place of these tools.

I was having a conversation a month or so ago with a colleague about the trust we place in some of these web tools, like social bookmarking sites and wikis, where we store TONS of information. Watching what is happening to some of these other sites should make us a little wary about saving things in multiple places and have a healthy amount of skepticism about our reliance on these services.

In addition, it also bears mentioning that a lot of these "free" sites are ad supported and sometimes receive income just for out-bound clicks, whether anything is bought or not. There are some services that I would pay for if there was a danger of them closing down, but its certainly within my power right now to click on a couple of ads, especially if it directs me to something I may have an interest in, if it helps to keep these sites free and continuing to operate.

I just thought it bears mentioning that while all of these web tools are cool and engaging and getting more and more awesome with each passing day, good teaching can't be sacrificed for just some tool. Tools are still resources and resources are nice to teach with, but we don't teach the resource and expect kids to learn the content. Whether the resource is there or not, good teaching shouldn't be largely affected.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Awesome Animoto!

Do you know about Animoto?

It's a site that allows you to "remix" photos and music and create essentially a movie trailer like presentation very, very quickly! Teachers and students are starting to use this tool to create quick classroom presentations or even as a quick "digital story" to help jump start discussions, build prior knowledge bases, or as a dynamic formative assessment tool to help guide instruction to the next destination!

When students are working in a rote, traditional environment, i.e. drill & skill, lecture as the primary forming of learning, reading as the primary form of learning, etc., then only about 10% of what a teacher does is getting through. A $10 return on a $100 investment would be ludicrous, wouldn't it? Why waste the money or energy on something that is not going to pay off? However, when what we do as teachers creates memorable moments for our students, when what we do is motivating and engaging, especially in the wake of all the 21st century tools that are available, the return on our teaching investment is maximized, and makes a whole lot more sense! When students have the opportunity to explore, analyze, evaluate, and create, learning occurs because their emotions are engaged. If their emotions are engaged, then they pay attention, which leads to learning and ultimately leads to performance. Animoto is a tool that helps to lock the kids into an engagement mode!

Recently, a valued member of my Digital Learning Network, Christa Anderson, had her kids create Animotos around the subject of Heroes. What follows is a repost of what Christa and her students blogged, including their Animoto video! You can connect to Christa's blog HERE and I would like to publicly thank her and her students for letting me repost. I think what they did is REALLY COOL!

The above video includes a few of my favorite quotes:

“We see the future and the future is ours.” ~Cesar Chavez
“Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“Life loves the liver of it.” ~Maya Angelou
“My life is my message.” ~Mahandas Gandhi
“We must use time effectively.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Merrium-Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of hero:

a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
b: an illustrious warrior
c: a person admired for their achievements and noble qualities
d: one that shows great courage
e: the central figure in an event, period, or movement
Click on the links above to learn a little more about each leader. Think about the quotes and choose one to interpret (explain). Using what you’ve learned about each person and the definition of hero, describe what you think the quote means. (Ideas to strengthen your response: explain how you could use the words to help guide your own life choices or describe how we can learn from role models like those listed above)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Web Stuff 03/18/2009

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Web Stuff 03/17/2009

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Web Stuff 03/12/2009

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama's Speech on Education Today...

I "Wordled" Obama's Education speech today and while I didn't hear it live, I believe that using Wordle as a focusing tool helps me understand what the major points of his speech are. I'm excited to see words like "innovation" and "investments" represented, as well as seeing the frequency with which he used the words "college," "responsibility," "children," and "teachers." I love that Wordle allows me to think "out of context" and paint a picture of meaning that gives me a knowledge base to more fully comprehend the text when I read it. (Which you can read HERE, courtesy of @mrsbrowndog from Twitter.)

Wordle: ObamaEducationSpeech

Monday, March 9, 2009

New Webslides from Diigo!

Now, you can turn virtually any website or collection of bookmarks on Diigo into a Webslide Embeddable presentation! I "Webslided" my blog here to see how it works! For more info, go to http://slides.diigo.com

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wonders of Wordle

Example of "Book Preview" Wordle (in place of a traditional "Picture Walk")

As I’m working with teachers, one of my favorite web applications is WORDLE, a tag cloud creator with an artistic edge. Recently, a colleague of mine, Denny Atkinson, used WORDLE with his Social Studies teachers and created tag clouds of famous speeches for comparative purposes and shared his work on Twitter.

I’m constantly coming up with ways to use WORDLE in the classroom and Denny sparked the idea that it would be beneficial to begin a list of what I’m telling teachers. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments area!
  1. Lower Grade ELA teachers – Wordle the text of the book you’re reading and instead of a “picture walk” do a “word walk.” You can introduce frequent vocabulary and let kids predict the story from the combinations of words they see in the WORDLE.
  2. Another for ELA teacher – Wordle a collection of words that represent parts of speech. Change the colors to white words on black background and print on overhead transparency. Project the Wordle onto a large sheet of butcher paper and ask the kids to come and color nouns a certain color, verbs a different color, etc.
  3. An extension of #2 – Wordle Characters and Character traits, print overhead transparency and project. Use a color to connect characters with their specific traits.
  4. Having trouble with kids and transition words? Let the students WORDLE their own writing and analyze which words are being used most often. If “THEN” is the biggest word, the kids will know immediately that they need work with their transitions.
  5. Teaching 6 + 1 traits? Having trouble getting kids to understand importance of Word Choice? Wordle their writing and let them see a visual representation of the words they chose and work with their peers to improve their vocabulary choices!
  6. Social Studies teachers can Wordle news articles from several sources and compare to look at bias or to evaluate credible sources.
  7. Science teachers can Wordle whatever text they are using as in introductory activity to show students vocabulary they will be encountering, then going further by making predictions about what the words might mean in the context of the words that already have prior knowledge of that appear in the Wordle.
  8. Have students Wordle a favorite poem or song for themselves as you introduce them to “Wordling.” This would be a great beginning of the year activity and could be extended to be a “Word Cloud Biography” to hang up in the room and then get to know each other as they do a “Room Walk.”
  9. Building on #8, if students are preparing for a holiday like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. They could Wordle wedding vows, family stories, favorite love songs of their parents or grandparents, or just the names of the people in their families to create a very personal, but creative and artistic gift that’s suitable for framing. (And it’s free!)
  10. Music teachers could Wordle lyrics or famous musician’s biographies for comparative analysis.
  11. Students could Wordle their writing to create a tag cloud as a “front page” for their writing or a “cover” for their books or short stories.
  12. School Systems could Wordle their Mission Statements for a nice visual to hang in classrooms.
  13. An Example of a Standards/Performance Indicator Prioritization Wordle
  14. Teachers beginning the Curriculum Mapping Process could Wordle their State Standards or Performance Indicators to begin the discussion of creating a common language around the critical pieces of curriculum that should be represented in every teacher’s classroom.
  15. Teachers could Wordle their class lists or Principals could Wordle their Staffs’ names to create a neat visual as a basis for a discussion of teaming or the importance of connections between people. (Making sure everyone in the Wordle is represented by the same size font.)
  16. Teachers could also use Wordle visually represent grading rubrics as a reminder of the important points that students should consider while doing projects.

I’m sure there are tons of other uses for Wordle and I hope that you’ll add more in the comments section. Besides being a tool for Analysis and Evaluation, and fitting in with Bloom’s Taxonomy, it also fits in with Marzano’s “nonlinguistic represenations” and “comparison” models, as well as Jensen’s brain based learning research. Doing things in a different way, utilizing color, creating visuals—all have an effect on how the brain learns and remembers information. Wordle is a great tool to help maximize learning with the content you’re teaching!

Update (3/15/09):

Here are a couple more uses of Wordle! You can wordle a website or a blog and prioritize the overall message! Here are a couple of examples:

(Click to view larger image)
This is a wordle of Janet Hale's Curriculum Mapping 101 site. You can tell by looking at the wordle exactly what this site is about: Curriculum Mapping! While out of textual context, the other words clue you in to the gist of the rest of the message: the process is important, the teacher is important, the learning is important. Additionally, you can see that practice and design, as well as collaboration are key components of Curriculum Mapping.

(Click to view larger image)
Here's an example of a blog wordle, which you can do by pasting a web address with an RSS feed into the Wordle create window. This is Angela Stockman's blog feed, but instead of focusing on a one main message, like a static website would, the blog Wordle focuses on the message of the moment. For the last few blog posts, what you see above is a prioritization of what's on Angela's mind at this moment. In a few days, with more blog posts, the words and the wordle will change. If this was a classroom situation where we were making comparisons, comparative analysis of wordles from changing blogs would be a great thing to consider or a great discussion starter!

What ways can you come up with for using Wordle? I think I'm soon going to need a Wordle Wiki to share examples!

http://www.wordle.net/. Images of Wordles are licensed .

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Web Stuff 03/02/2009

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

Continuing the Digital / Visual Bloom's Conversation

Lasst night on Twitter, I began discussing the idea of a 21st century frame around Bloom's, where individual apps are identified within the Bloom's schema--partly to continue to analyze how things fit together, but also to discover that the tiers are not so neatly separated anymore.

Through conversation, I found that there needs to be a new visual that connects tiers to each other while still showing the differentiation of skills associated with learning 21st century applications.  I created a wiki at http://visualblooms.wikispaces.com to continue the collaboration and I'm posting an excerpt of the twitter conversation here.  I'm really enjoying how multiple tools and multiple perspectives come together to create a bigger idea than what I had originally intended.

The creative juices are flowing. BIG TIME. And as the week progresses, I hope to flesh out even more and continue the conversation with my colleagues!  (And perhaps create a workshop and a journal article out of it!)  More to come...

An excerpt of last night's Twitter conversation around Digital / Visual Bloom's:

fisher1000@paulawhite I think connections are part of that lower tier, and collaboration is on multiple ones. I'm changing my whole view of Bloom's about 14 hours ago from web

fisher1000@paulawhite as I think through this. I don't want it to be clear cut anymore. I want it to network and flow, if that makes sense. about 14 hours ago from web

paulawhite@fisher1000 does creativity equal creating? I would argue not. I created a wiki, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's creative. about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

eduguy101@paulawhite @fisher1ooo Are you saying that the digital blooms needs a flexible structure allowing for varying connections? about 14 hours ago from web

paulawhite@woscholar @fisher1000 I WOULD say create = new/functional/useful (and that could be aesthetic as well) item, idea, etc. about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

paulawhite@fisher1000 I saw the coolest tool today in Bed, Bath and Beyond, called a cyclone whisk. http://bit.ly/Ad6Gnabout 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

paulawhite@fisher1000 and the whisk analogy could go on and on. . stirring things up, mixing things together in different ways,about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

cristama@fisher1000 Agreed...I love what your building, really have me thinking again. @Linda704 I'm watching recorded BOE meeting too ;) about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

mcarlsRT @gr8t @fisher1000 Feel free to jump in and add anything! http://visualblooms.wikispa...about 14 hours ago from web

fisher1000@paulawhite Perhaps I'll keep the evolution of the visuals. It's a good record of how creativity builds, esp. in wake of collaboration. about 14 hours ago from web

woscholar@fisher1000 Yep. This thing is no longer a pyramid. Go figure.about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

cristama@fisher1000 Perhaps back to someones suggestion of a cloud? I liked that suggestion as well.about 14 hours ago from web

fisher1000@paulawhite creativity is subjective. Creating is a skill based on a level that exceeds proficiency, in the case of web tools & Bloom's.about 14 hours ago from web

Linda704@eduguy101 @fisher1000 @cristama @paulawhite Y'all getting' way too cerebral for Sat nite! ;)about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

paulawhite@eduguy101 Absolutley, digital blooms has to be flexible with variable connections.great description!about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

woscholar@fisher1000 Great ideas! Thanks for doing that. Look forward to the link.about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck