Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Really Cool Map Mashup

I have to admit--I have always been VERY social. So when I saw that a PA group started for NECC attendees I was very excited. Now I would be able to tell which of my friends in my networks were going to be there....but Atlanta is a big city, how would I know where everyone was staying?
I started by creating a google map--only to discover that I was the only one who could add placemarks. So I started my quest for map mashups that would allow multiple users to add bookmarks.....I have always liked frappr, but found that when I was on my district network I was unable to access it. Then I found platial. The basic concept is this: you create a map of a certain locations, add bookmarks and people can comment on the bookmarks you added or add their own. I created a map for PA NECC attendees so they could add the placemarks of where they were staying--neat because it could be embedded into the wikispace for the PA group as well.
Platial has some pretty cool good eats in NY and some cool features, like you can limit who can add to your map.....Then I started to think about OTHER more educational applications. What about creating a map of the battles of Gettysburg. Teacher can bookmark the sites, students can comment on what happened there. OR a map of natural disasters--kids can add the location and others can comment. If you are visiting my blog today--take some time to click on my platial map and let me know where you are visiting from!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Understanding Tragedy in a Connected World...

Like many, I have struggled all day to make sense of what happened yesterday. Our schools are supposed to be sacred places. In a place where people come not only to learn, but to share their knowledge, to produce citizens to make this world a better place, such things should not happen.

My babysitter was a Virginia Tech Student. She found out today that one of her friends was killed in the massacre.

While I don't want to exploit what is a terrible tragedy, I can help but think.... think about how many students at Tech were getting their information from off campus through cell phones and text messaging...think about how a tech alert system in place may have changed the outcome...think about how the first footage from the scene was from a student's cellphone. I think too of how because of media and instant information repeated over and over, how painful this loss must be for those who are living it. My sitter is one of my friends on Facebook, I left her a message on her wall to let her know I am thinking about her and her friends. A group was started in her friend's memory on Facebook. In less than an hour this group grew from 71 members to over 370. I marvel at the power of the tools that are bringing people together in such difficult times...allowing them to communicate, to express, to grieve. There has been so much negative press about the dangers of sites like myspace or facebook and here is an example of how it is bringing people together in very powerful ways.

Vicki Davis talks about a world where technology is a friend, journalist, and tool of safety. where wikipedia has more reliable information than a single news source.

I grieve with the world and continue to pray for the families, students, and faculty who were affected by the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Are you paying attention....

I came upon this video via Wesley Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity--In the spirit of Karl Fisch's Did you Know PowerPoint and many of the other conversations being held about how to reach kids and teach them how they learn, I thought it worth posting. Not only does it have lots of good information, but the references on each slide to support. Not only that it offers ways to actually reach these digital natives. Interesting that it actually has more views on TeacherTube than on YouTube--let's hope that continues to stay unblocked in most districts.

Don't let yourself get STUCK.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Get ready for the future....

I came across this via Durff's Blog and Apple Learning Interchange...
As we move towards 1:1 in my school district, I think it is well worth passing along as food for thought.
Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future. I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready…?

I will access up-to-date information - you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
I will immediately know when I misspell a word – you have to wait until it’s graded.
I will learn how to care for technology by using it – you will read about it.
I will see math problems in 3D – you will do the odd problems.
I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world – you will share yours with the class.
I will have 24/7 access – you have the entire class period.
I will access the most dynamic information – yours will be printed and photocopied.
I will communicate with leaders and experts using email – you will wait for Friday’s speaker.
I will select my learning style – you will use the teacher’s favorite learning style.
I will collaborate with my peers from around the world – you will collaborate with peers in your classroom.
I will take my learning as far as I want – you must wait for the rest of the class.
The cost of a laptop per year? - $250
The cost of teacher and student training? – Expensive
The cost of well educated US citizens and workforce? - Priceless
It is worth noting that this was originally posted on Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz website during the spring of 2003. . Given that 96% of students say that school is important for their success, and only 20% say it is meeting their needs and the fastest growing set of computer users today are 5-7 year olds. Given that at the time of this posting, in 2003 4%of US school districts were involved in a 1:1 initiative. By 2011, it is estimated that 24% of districts will be involved in a 1:1 deployment. The question shouldn't be are we should be are we moving fast enough?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's time to rethink a few things....

I read blogs, a LOT of them--sometimes when I blog myself, I feel like an echo of others' thoughts but recently Will Richardson posted an interesting article in Education Week: Let’s Abolish High School and since I had the opportunity to see Willard Daggett speak over this break--I really needed to take some time to make some connections. From the Ed Week article, Will quoted:
“A century ago, there was no way to address these concerns, but, thanks to computers and the Internet, we now have rapidly improving tools that will soon allow virtually all young people to master essential material at their own pace, and to do so at any point in their lives. There will probably always be a place for the classroom, but it will be a place where intense and intimate learning takes place with highly willing students, not a step on an assembly line.”
a place where intense and intimate learning takes place with highly willing students.... I have some concerns about this quote. Daggett was very clear that while he has traveled around the world, there is no place he would rather be that the United States because we are the one country that makes it their responsibility to educate everyone...

FROM MY NOTES taken during Dagget's session:
Our schools aren’t failing—we graduated more 18 year olds despite facts that have more state tests to pass—more children living below poverty line…World outside school is changing 4-5 times faster than world in school. We are suffering from a skills gap. Change is a process. We cannot and will not be able to change until there is more pressure for change than resistance to change. China says they will be #1 in biotech—1 year requirement…India has 2 year requirement—yet many of our schools are teaching sciences in isolation. Project 720—requires 2 years of foreign language—but what languages are we teaching? In China 110 million people studying English—must pass proficiency exam in English. India has 168 million preschoolers. If the preschoolers in India were a nation they would be the 4th most populated nation in world. The Math & Science requirements to enter HS in India are higher than that of our graduation requirements. That is the ones they CHOOSE to educate—The problem is that the ones they choose to educate are going to have us for lunch. Are we talking about this in schools?

Will stated... It’s getting to the point where I’m either going to have to stop reading stuff like this or put my blog where my mouth is in terms of my own school system…Often I feel very much the same way...

When ARE people going to stop reading and writing and start DOING? There are quite a few bold educators...who are taking risks and talking about it. Chris Lehman, Marco Torres, Vicki Davis, Karl Fisch and the teachers at Arapahoe immediately come to mind and I think PA is taking some bold steps between the Keystone Technology Integrators, Classrooms for the Future, Project 720, and PA High School Coaching Initiative but it is systemic change that needs to happen and I think we have a responsibility to our students to have ongoing conversations. Because when kids are given the opportunity to work and learn collaboratively ---and they go on to institutions of higher learning, they come out saying THIS

So I repeat what Daggett said MANY times during his session...Change is a process. We cannot and will not be able to change until there is more pressure for change than resistance to change. I challenge educators to talk more, be less resistant and start to make some changes.