Monday, February 26, 2007

Newspaper 2.0

I admit it, I do NOT read the newspaper. It could be that I can't sit still long enough to do so...It could be that I start an article....only to be distracted by something else when I turn the page to finish that article. I have the same problem with magazines...Books are linear, I can do books, but magazines and newspapers I have never been able to do....until the internet.
I LOVE my bloglines. I can read and link, read then link, if I want to find out more, all I need to do is works for my attention problems. I like getting my news via RSS. I start an article, I CLICK to read more and there is nothing to distract me in between...News 2.0

We get the newspaper delivered at my husband reads it daily. He likes being able to sit down with is coffee and turn through the pages, different strokes for different folks.....

I guess there are a lot more folks like me because This Sunday, I noticed on the back of the sports page that our newspaper has an EXPRESS section. All of the news in one page, visual with directions on where to go if you want to find out more. Under ON PAGE ONE, it shows the 4 stories that appear on page 1--just a summary. Want to know what is happening in the NATION & WORLD? There it is--title, one sentence, and where to go to find out more. There is the entire newspaper all layed out in this 2 page spread, short little blurbs with where to go to find out more. All it is missing are the hyperlinks :)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

If you build it....

will they come?

Because technology is SO expensive to implement the question of "is it worth it" often arises.

...when everything is in place... the tools, the resources, the equipment, the reliability, the support... is it worth it? Does something magical happen in the classroom?

Having spent the last few months as a coach for teachers in a one-to-one setting, I can tell you that the answer to this is a resounding YES...

Want to see magic, spent a day in an English class where kids have voice...they use blogs and threaded discussion boards. They take notes in the "notebook" version of word. On a Friday afternoon they spend 10th period bluetoothing plans in preparation for the weekend, taking notes, learning how to access their files from the G: so they can be prepared to present on Wednesday...collaboration, presentation, research...

Want to see magic, watch a chemistry classes revising their labs using subetha edit. A physics class "mapping the wireless access points in the hs by sending information back to their classroom using the same program...
collaboration, analysis, revision.

Want to see magic, watch RobTV...the weekly broadcast (produced even without a TV studio...) simply an enthusiastic librarian and elementary students who just want their voices to be heard

Want to see magic...what about the class relating fictional literature about an autistic child The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime autistic kids to the true story of an autistic woman.

And speaking of magical is seeing the looks on the faces of a class of autistic students when they get to watch the "movies" they made explaining how a simple machine they learned about works

If you build it...they WILL come...

There IS magic is building these types of learning experiences for children...but it is important that the building blocks: tools, resources, equipment, infrastucture and support provide a solid foundation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How are we supposed to talk about 21st C Skills..

when the things that we talk about...genuine TOOLS for improved learning are blocked by SPAM mail filters? How can we ask kids to create content if the places where they can host this content is blocked by internet filters?

I have had the ULTIMATE tech frustration today. I spent a ton of time this afternoon trying to send an email to a list of tech integrators. An email came through our coaching listerve asking for example of good classroom wikis to share with their administrators. After scouring my blogroll and accounts and reviewing my PETE & C presentation, I came up with the following reply:

Check out my presentation wiki from PETE & C
The main page is

The sample wikis are on this page

Also check out Jenn Dorman PA Keystone as a local example which is part of my page this is a good article to share as well

Vicki Davis (who skyped into my session) wrote about how she started using wikis in her classroom is a great blog to subscribe to...

Tried it again--referencing the blogs, without the addresses....STILL blocked....
So this is what I wrote--no porn, no ads, no junk and yet time after time it got rejected by the SPAM mail filter. Every day of the 40 or so emails I receive, at least 15 are SPAM in nature. My network administrator assures me that 50% of what he CATCHES is spam and yet almost 50% of what I receive is SPAM and information that is VALUABLE for teaching and learning 21st Century Skills is rejected. Which brings me to my original questions....

How are we supposed to talk about 21st C Skills when the things that we talk about...genuine TOOLS for improved learning are blocked by SPAM mail filters? How can we ask kids to create content if the places where they can host this content is blocked by internet filters?

BTW...If you are reading this from the CFF Coaches listserve, it may be your only chance to give me your feedback it :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's all about the book...

Maggie made an interesting comment about how librarians may feel about the "connected classroom" video. She stated that many "teachers do not feel that reading on a computer screen is actually reading--and that is all the reading many of our students get each day after school". This raises an interesting question about the definition of literacy and what it means to be literate in today's world. Not only do many kids ONLY read off the screen at home , many times they are ONLY reading from text and writing on paper in schools. If you haven't seen MWesch's Web 2.0 Video you simply must! The types of reading and writing that exist on the internet are different from traditional reading and writing that are happening in schools. So all teachers of reading and writing must engage in the conversation about how best to use these new technologies to teach kids about these new literacies. Donald Leu and his team at the University of Connecticut are talking about just that. We teach kids to read and write for different purposes, yet we ignore teaching kids how to read hypertext. Kids are doing research and while the original site is valid, may end up finding information that is unreliable based on the site where it is located. Even some adults link from place to place (site to site) without realizing that is what they are doing. Isn't it our responsibility to teach children ALL forms of reading and writing? After all, books were once the "new technology" as well:-)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Apparently I am VIRAL....

I don't know if anyone has read Karl Fisch's recent post about how his Did You Know slides have gone viral...but I feel like I have scratched the surface and the infection is growing inside me more each day as I wake and think about my future in public education.

My version of Karl's thoughts is appearing all over. Interestingly, I have found quite a few Canadian bloggers' sites (all in French) here and here and here even here and who knows where else :P Although unfortunately I had a minor in Spanish Bable Fish has allowed me to follow what people are saying about the state of teaching, learning and today's world.

Although most of the sites I discovered state me as a source--I was a little taken a back when I linked to one that had not only taken off the direct link to my YouTube video, but had made comments to it using Mojiti (video annotation service) in essence changing the work----or had he?

When I looked at what he BEAUTIFUL was the story of a father....and what he wants for his children.....
Roughly translated..... the annotations read as follows...
I try to be a catalyst of the passage of the school of yesterday towards that of tomorrow
And this (of the photo of a factory job) since a few years already!
Where the chalk will not be a privileged tool.
From there the importance of competences...
VS knowledge
The dad in me asks it to you... PLEASE!
A whole heartfelt cry, not?

My comments to his posting (in French of course:)
As a mother of 3 and a public school teacher in the state of Pennsylvania, you can see why I created that video, no---although US centric as pointed out in other comments I have received, this is a GLOBAL issue. I realize as I see my video embedded in sites around the world. We can NOT finish the discussion OR change the subject. We need to stand up as parents and educators. Globally we must do what is best for our children and their world.

We are in a more powerful place than I can even wrap my head around.....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nice Wiki....

There has been a lot of talk about my video these days, video is a powerful media. I got an email asking HOW I embedded it right into the site--I thought others might have the same question...what a great topic to blog about---I am really digging this blogging thing.

My first thought for hosting was to put it on my own domain but I also wanted to follow the old practice what you preach philosophy so I decided to use a free video host service. the cool thing about youtube or googlevideo, or odeo, or any free video hosting site IS the ability to embed--when you post a video it gives you 2 things--a url to link to and and embed code that you can use to embed--in a blog, wiki, or whatever page takes embedded video.

I guess I got a lot of bang for my buck on youtube because with the tags flat world web2.0 and education a lot of folks have found it. I like that you can also set your videos to be public or private, you can set it so people can comment on it or not, you can allow people to rate it AND you can set it so it either can or can not be embedded by others. am actually being blogged about :) My
same video has actually been embedded and commented on in 2 other blogs ( and

The elementary school where I worked prior to my coaching job actually was hosting their weekly news on youtube now using eyespot ( which I am just learning about. It takes a while to load, but nice because on youtube there is a little image at the bottom that if you click on it brings you to youtube. Although it USUALLY jumps to a page with like videos that is not always the case. Eyespot as far as I can see, does not do that--but like I said I am just learning, but check out RobTV to seewhat these elementary school students are doing with the help of their very talented librarian. They have a really nice disclaimer as well.

TO EMBED IN A WIKI or whatever--as long as there is an "embed media" icon in the editing toolbar--you can add whatever video has embed text--in wikispaces, the embed media button looks like a tv--you click on it and when the pop up opens--you copy the text from the embed area of youtube (or whatever service you are using) right into the pop up box.

oh heck--if you are using wikispaces, the directions pop up IN the box and are much easier to follow
Add your favorite media clips and applications to your Wikispace in three easy steps:

  1. Go to your favorite video clip, podcast, or embedded application. Anything from Google Calendar to Odeo to YouTube!
  2. Find the HTML code to paste into your site. This will be found in a text box labeled "Embed", "Embed HTML", "Add to My Site/Blog", or similar.
  3. Paste in the HTML below and click "Preview" to see how it will look. When you save your changes by clicking the "Save" button, your media clip or application will appear in your Wikispaces page.
As Ken Rodoff a fellow CFTF coach and Keystone so eloquently put it "all wikis can blog--but not all blogs can wiki"--to which I reply---either one is better when embedded--hee hee hee--there you go Ken--your blog is out there now you TOO are committed.
GOOD LUCK to all of you and hey, send me the link to your first embedded wiki / blog media--Maybe I'll blog about YOU :-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Maintaining Relevance

As I sit listening to Will Richardson's Keynote at PETE & C--the question that stood out to me the most was...
As kids connect socially to the things which they are passionate about—how do we in education maintain our relevance?

What a concept---we....the teachers....and what we have to say.....does it have relevance to the students we teach? How do we make it important to them? I have really been thinking about this a lot lately as we begin to answer the strategic plan process in my school. How do we continue to support these efforts while preparing for high stakes testing? How do we convince people that we can't continue to do more of the same stuff and make a difference?

Will asked us to think about these things as teachers...
Who are OUR teachers?
How are we building OUR OWN learning network?
How are WE modeling OUR learning for our students?

Groups like The Keystones and GTO mentors, the Classrooms for the Future Coaches, and PAECT are starting to have these conversations...starting to make these connections. So I open it up to you...what changes are YOU going to make?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Creating thoughtful learners

I guess now that I have been blogged ABOUT...and linked to it is time to resurrect my own blog. I think what I struggle with most in blogging is having to perfect my thinking before making it public--but when asking kids to take the risk, I should do the same.

This coming Tuesday--I will be presenting at PETE & C on the topic of "The Connected Classroom". So that I could embed a video into my wikispace I uploaded it to YouTube.
Now, I use wikis all the time, have blogged time to time, but never really had an "audience" so I was surprised when the day after posting I had a comment about my video. Not only did I have a comment, but it was a comment from Vicki Davis whose Flat Classroom project with Julie Lindsay I have followed. Needless to say the world really is flat. It was interesting to see my work embedded in the context of someone else's blog--to see their thoughts and the related comments and to really reflect on the content of what I created....It caused me to think about the content of my presentation and what points I really wanted to make.... It got me to think about what we want our kids to do, to become creators of information, and reflect on what they have created so that they are prepared for their 21st Century world.