Sunday, September 30, 2007

SLOW DOWN, you're in a school zone...

“It’s easy to drive fast in a Ferrari.”--- Graham Wegner
Image uploaded with Skitch!
5699536_f191d39077I recently read a post by Graham Wegner which described that while voices like Kim Cofino, Jeff Utecht, Susan Sedro and Clay Burell have a lot to say about the power of embedding technology into teaching & learning experiences for their students. But as a realist...he sees that when the the ferrari is not there, all you have are teachers that are trying to make due with their hotted up Monaro....this analogy of racing on a track, really hit home for me and I'd like to take it one step further

What happens when GIVEN the Ferrari?
Through Classrooms For the Future we have been given the Ferrari of classrooms....sets of laptops, Interactive Whiteboards and LCD projector, digital still and video cameras, scanners, speakers.... and yet the teachers in these classrooms still have concerns.

Working with teachers who are comfortable with the car they've got
Some folks are very comfortable driving their Toyota Camrys. They are comfortable with the way it drives, they know how the tools work, and they can make their Camray go as fast (or as slow) as they like. It is dependable and that is what makes it so easy to drive. Some folks are afraid of getting in that Ferrari and the risk that comes with driving fast.
86704182_f82c694927_mOnce they can get the teacher in their Ferrai and start to teach them the power it has, they are restricted by the school limits...
Many coaches returned to their schools from bootcamp only to find that their district has blocked many of the tools and resources that they learned that can help their teachers to start on the fast track. Many of the network administrators see only the danger, not the power of the tools. My advice, don't go to the network guys, go to the people who make the decisions about curriculum and instructional practices. Go to them with examples in other words, put THEM in your Ferrari and take THEM for a RIDE!!!

I continue to urge people get in the race...get behind the wheel of your Ferrari step on the gas, take it out on the road, and see what it really can far as the school zones....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Keeping Teachers AFLOAT...

I must say that the CFF bootcamp this year was a very rewarding experience as it has given me the opportunity to reflect on my past year of learning, remember where I was 6 months ago, and think about the possibility for the coming year.

Having the opportunity to be a technology integration coach in a tremendous program like Classrooms for the Future and helping teachers to prepare their students can certainly be a challenge as evidenced by the final project created by the gentlemen in my county...thanks @kenrodoff for making this available. I am sure that many of us, even the most proficient user, at times, with all of the tools, and learning opportunities, feel they are drowning in a sea of information

The most powerful part of this initiative is the coach, the person who keeps folks afloat as reflected in the ladies's final project...

I encourage everyone to reflect on this role and how we have a responsibility as educators to continue to work together. Please add your voice, your thoughts to our voice thread!!!!

Thanks to my global network and all of the CFF Coaches who are helping me to grow as a teacher, to improve education for my kids....You are an AMAZING group...have a great year!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Progressive Education

How much have our schools REALY changed in the past 50 or 60 years....

and yet...
How much has our world changed...

I think about all of the tools for collaboration and conversation that weren't available even 9 months ago...
And how things will be different by the time NECC rolls around 9 months from now...

I have spent the past week at a "boot camp" for PA educators who are working to help implement a state program so that districts can begin to help their students use 21st Century tools for learning. I know that there has been a LOT put out on platters....sometimes too much. But at least the conversations have begun... I am glad I am developing a network of folks who are thinking about these things, becoming agents for change....for the most important reasonsWhat are you doing, what new things have you learned, how can you act to make these changes happen in your world?

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Monday, September 17, 2007

What have you bookmarked lately?

Keeping up with my world has been a little daunting these days, but I wanted to be sure to get a quick post out as I have been tagged...while I am not a big fan of these memes I kind of liked going to Lisa's site and seeing what she has been bookmarking and since I am doing a workshop on later this week so I thought it would be a good way to prove the power of networks as well as find some other users to add to my network.

So here are the rules and here are my bookmarked sites...
1) Once you've been tagged, link your most recent bookmarked pages back to your blog
2) Name the tag that you have used so others can access the links easily in a blog post
3) At the end of your post, tag 6 people and list their names, linking to them.
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged.

So what have I bookmarked on lately?

Kentucky Virtual Library has a neat how to do research page: I like the steps listed Plan, Search for Information, Take Notes, Use the Information, Report, and Evaluate and that each step models links for student use.

I also bookmarked this article from EdWeek about whether our Graduates are writing ready

I think the process of blogging in subject areas is fascinating and while I have read Dan Myer's Math blog for a while now, I came upon all of Chris Harbeck's Math blogs and wikis, boy is he doing neat things in middle school training kids to think about the Math Process.

Another cool blog project. Have students blog the story of Hamlet from the voice of the characters. The difference between Gertrude's and Hamlet's blogs from the theme of the skins to the voice of the writing is fun to see and I use this as an example all the time

With much of the "international travel" I have done lately with flashmeeting, I was looking for a timezone converter and really like this one.

So there you have it what I have bookmarked recently

I am going to call on some of my PA / network....
A. To help me out with my presentation at the CFF Bootcamp over the next 2 weeks
B. Cause you haven't shared anything recently with the tag for:hokie62798

Ken Rodoff
Kurt Paccio
Ken Pruitt
Chris Champion
Jim Gates

Even if you weren't tagged, feel free to leave me your most recent bookmarks here or better yet, tag them for:hokie62798 on

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Define: "Digital literacy"

Vicki Davis wrote a GREAT post yesterday about student's need to learn digital literacy. While the post was thought provoking, the conversation that ensued as a result was even more so. Vicki expressed concern that her MS son came home with a report that included a source that was less than reliable.
When my son brought out his report on 9/11 facts, I was again reminded of how important it is to teach digital literacy.
You see, when he typed 9/11 facts -- he found a conspiracy theory website(s) and came out of it thinking someone had bombed the building.
Yes, he is in seventh grade, and Yes, I've talked so much with him about verifying sources, however, kids so often think if it is "on" Google that it is right.
In fact, Google doesn't verify for veracity but kids often think so
Her concerns as a classroom teacher and a parent are valid--they are many of the same concerns which I have as a parent of digital kids. Many of the comments on Vicki's original conversation came back to "the kids need to learn to learn...we can't continue to as I call it 'spoonfeed' them resources" and this is VERY true when you think about HS and adult learners. I looked at the conversation through an elementary lens and thought about learning as a process--not the PRODUCTS that are being produced in High School.

It is important teach kids digital literacy (how to read and evaluate information online) and digital citizenship (safety, privacy and ethics). I am going to take it one step further here and redefine it the way Alan November did at NECC as INFORMATION LITERACY. We need to TEACH kids how to find, evaluate and judge INFORMATION and we need to weave all places that kids can find this information, both text and digital resources into curriculums across the board from early learning (kindergarten) on. Early on, kids need to start using and using properly, all of the resources available to them in order to ensure that kids obtain the skills that Tom Hoffman and Stephen Downes mentioned in their comments to Vicki's post as well as enable them to "prove authority" as David Warlick suggested.

Stephen Downes comment that kids can be "'not taught' and yet still not be left to 'figure out' things on their own." and with this disagree. We spend a ton of time emphasizing "healthy schools"--monitoring snacks that are served in the cafeteria, encouraging parents to discuss healthy alternatives for birthday treats, creating opportunities for students to participate in active games during recess. It is important to model these healthy choices. I went on to express that I would NEVER leave my kids in a kitchen full of all the food they can eat, with a big screen tv, nintendo, and a shelf of books and expect them to figure out that they will feel best if they eat healthy and read kids would never figure out on their own that chicken with broccoli and book reading is better for them than video games, the Disney Channel washed down with Cheetos and soda with out some modeling and instruction early on. Kids need to be taught, teachers need to model so that kids can apply those skills when relevant. It is true with literacy as well.

I am a former 3rd grade teacher. Third grade was always an exciting year to teach because it is the year kids move from learning to read and start reading to LEARN. I saw how DIFFICULT it was for kids to navigate even written text to gather information. I was one of the few teachers who was teaching the kids how to read to not only read text, but to navigate webpages and compare information from the web with information in books. One example was our study of space. We had information to deliver from trade books copyright 2002, but I also used relevant sites so we could discuss which contained more valid information. We discussed how we drew these conclusions. We looked at sources. So at the same time they were reading non-fiction text to learn, I taught them how to read online information for information and compare, evaluate, judge what was important. I was fascinated by David's recent post about the future of interstellar space travel and the variety of resources that could EASILY be used with elementary students. As a teacher of elementary students I felt the need to continue to be a LEARNER myself so I could teach my kids these essential skills.

Teach, Model, practice, apply...

The process of acquiring digital literacy is quite different from traditional literacy in MANY ways. David, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you that teachers need to model HOW they find information. But I think there are still many adults who still feel like THEY are adrift without help in this sea of information, THEY never learned how to validate the vast amount of information to which they are exposed. They at least have a wealth of background information from which to draw upon, but could they help students find the resources that the truly need? You can't teach what you don't know...Rather than suggesting it is the teachers who are at fault, can those of us who have this understanding of the information explosion help them to understand the importance of doing so. And if so, what is the best way to go about doing this kind of modeling, what are the important elements?

Tom, mentioned that the basic skills that are being taught today are no different and with this I DO agree. In the ideal world, where kids at the earliest level are taught these searching and evaluating skills...even if the teachers continue model, practice and go to apply the learned skills, the same learned SKILLS that your now retired mother taught in checking sources, I think the DIFFERENCE is in the EASE and AVAILABILITY of information in today's world. When WE (and I use the universal we to describe anyone who was in school prior to commercial internet and google) did reasearch...applied the learned skills or "looked up" information in the microfische...there were "several" sources that needed to be weeded through for validity...not several MILLIONS... At the upper level, kids need to be taught HOW to access credible sources...via data bases, advanced google searches and other good search strategies. If we don't, they will continue to go to the first sources available. I certainly don't want to start the argument of who is doing this...I think there ARE many teachers who integrate these skills into what they do on a daily basis. What I am professing is that this needs to happen for every student, at every level, every day.

The bottom line, we are all seeking the same produce kids that we can release into the world after 12 years or so with the ability to evaluate resources in order to prove authority. We need to continue these conversations in order figure out the best way to give the kids a good background by teaching them the skills they need to build on this foundation in the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What makes an issue GLOBAL: Perspectives on 9/11

Wow has it been 6 years....I remember that day mind went back...

Then I noticed his poll...
crafty184 Twitter poll: Where were you when you found out about the twin towers? I was sleeping, woke up to work the night shift. Nightmare I thought. I replied...khokanson @crafty184 teaching had JUST gotten back from my grandmother's funeral in NYC -principal called us each out of room, hubby was supposed to be flying that dayssedro @crafty184 In Kuala Lumpur, where it was planned. Sat on couch, in shock, watching it happen. chrislehmann @crafty184 Teaching in NYC. Car alarms went off on our block when the towers were hit. Strangest day of my life. khokanson sitting in on a social studies class...they are discussing perspective in 9/11 kids in class were in elem school where were YOU 6 years ago? Kstaton I was on maternity leave. When CNN showed split screen of NYC and WASH thought it had to be a mistake, thoughts and prayers go out to all!

From Danielle Abernathy (currently in FL)
dabernethy @khokanson - I was in Bitburg AFB and we had just moved on base. That close to edge of the base I saw my first protest - not all liked us @crafty184 I was at the DO in Sumter District 2, SC. Parents at the base started pulling kids out, fear of an attack on Shaw.

From Jennifer Wagner & Mark Wagner (currently in Southern CA)
JLWagner @crafty184 -- I read the news on the Serenity Sisters webpage (a graphic arts group) and then and sat down on my couch & called my boss.

markwagner @crafty184. Principal mentioned it at a regular AM staff meeting (pacific time)... I thought the guy that told me the details was joking.

A Few PA friends Scott Snyder, Kurt Paccio and Chris Champion offered their thoughts
Thespian70 @khokanson I was teaching. I'd seen early footage during my prep period and decided to keep teaching to keep the kids focused. Chose this path since we didn't know what was going on...maintain some degree of normalcy. Not let the kids' minds wander.
kpaccio @khokanson - was in Thespian70's ACE building. Watched CNN footage of first impact. Watched 2nd impact live and THEN realized...
chrischampion @khokanson I was in our office with a coat-hanger attached to the broken antenna on a crummy TV. Our Training Director couldn't get hold of her niece. She was one of the dead it turned out. My Bro in law was teaching in Manhattan - his group of adult students worked at WTC2 and watched in horror as their office fell to the ground with the twin towers...much more to the story he shared with me later on (in skype)

Jennifer Jones (Seattle, WA) offered this thought...
injenuity Someone needs to archive the 9/11 Twitter commentary and turn it into art.

My thoughts ran deeper...
The incident itself and the War that ensued as a result has had an impact on cultural bias, economics and world wealth, security and travel, view points on different governments...

9/11 had a personal impact on many of my "connections" around the world.
Personal impacts of global issues...

None of us saw the event the same way, because we were all connected in different ways to the event. Our perception had to do with our own personal connection to the incident. I think that this is the same with any global issue. We are in a gas crisis here in the US, but in Kuwait, students pay pennies for their fuel as they watch the tankers leave their harbors. One of the teachers at my school wants to get his students to start to do this, to think about how global issues impact them AND we want to connect with others to see how those same issues impact kids around the world. Our project is just in it's planning stages but with the technology available we envision being able to have students connect (via video conference--Elluminate, Flashmeeting, or skype) both real time and asynchronously in order to get them to take a leap outside of their own perspectives and take a look at issues through a global lense.

Here is the original call for help on the Global Education Ning

We are looking for partners High School Teachers interested in joining our discussion AS WELL AS ideas....what are issues for you in your global world?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Deep Inside the Invisible Web

Recently Vicki Davis wrote about taking her kids deep inside the invisible web. Yesterday, my librarian pointed me to a great article in EdWeek online asking Are Our Graduates College-Writing Ready? What High Schools Could Do to Help. I think information literacy is ESSENTIAL for students and although I posted these resources on my ConnectedClassroom Wiki, I thought it was worth writing about here as well...
What is the Invisible Web? The deep web (or invisible web or hidden web) is the name given to pages on the World Wide Web that are not indexed by search engines. It consists of pages which are not linked to by other pages, non-indexed or query only pages. It also includes sites that require registration or otherwise limit access to their pages. 95% of deep web resources are FREE. Therefore, there is no excuse for not exposing students and ourselves to these great Internet resources. Google should NOT be a students first line of defense when looking for information.How to Find the Invisible Web Think "databases" and keep your eyes open. You can find searchable databases containing invisible web pages in the course of routine searching in most general web directories. Ones of particular value in academic research include:
Greater Google searches If your students are going to use Google they can use it to locate searchable databases by searching a subject term and the word "database". If the database uses the word database in its own pages, you are likely to find it in Google and it is more likely to contain information that is useful to your students

For example a search for the terms minerals + "data base" turned up two great data base resources without the commercial minerals resources.
Deep Web Directories
There are many deep web directories including
Some of the databases listed here are by subscription. However there is a good chance that your library subscribes to many of the resources or can work with you to get the information you need from one of their sources.

Take a look at The Tutorial from the Library at UC Berkeley and read the Wikipedia article on the Deep Web to help give you a better understanding of the valuable resources available for your students...and hopefully you will use a few of these in your classrooms this year