Category Archives: New Tools

Trying out Cover It Live for next week

Just wondering if I can try this out before the MLTI Summer Institute next week. Let’s see how this goes . . . Since it won’t embed the window IN the blog, you have to see it in its own window.

Here’s the link to the Cover It Live window.

I hope to have one going Wednesday evening, July 23 from 6:30 – 7:30 for the keynote at the MLTI Summer Institute in Castine, and hopefully any other sessions that I go to where I’m not presenting.  When I get some sense of my “schedule” for the institute, I’ll post it here so you can follow along if you want to (assuming the wireless access is operable!).

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Educon 2.0 Friday Fun

Alice Barr, Colleen King and I arrived in Philadelphia for Educon 2.0 yesterday at 12:30, having driven down from Massachusetts that morning. (Alice and I got a head start from Maine Thursday night, which helped immensely!) We went straight to the Science Leadership Academy to see the students and teachers in action, which was wonderful. SLA teacher Marcie Hull gave me a tour of the art facilities, including her brightly lit, window lined corner room with gorgeous butcher block tables and stools, a ceramics studio with four wheels, a kiln room with storage, and wonderful art on every vertical surface. I was then able to observe her crowded digital video class, where 30+ students were actively engaged in creating projects, brainstorming, and using iTunes (movies need music, after all) in an energetic cacophony of learning.

As an art teacher, I was interested in some of her resources, including an art text : Exploring Art from McGraw-Hill and the text for her digital video class : Film Making for Teens : Pulling off your shorts by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols With several preps and duties which include instructional technology for the building, these books provide a guide for the direction of the classes which then focus on the projects the students create and the discussion and evaluation of those works by the students themselves.

Just being in Philadelphia is of course a treat. The evening social event at the Franklin Institute was a great opportunity to go to the museum and enjoy the various exhibits, including the Identity exhibit about genetics and nature/nurture concepts of what makes us who we are. We had way too much fun with the station where you could see if your face is symmetrical. Educonners also took a moment to see how tall we were both with, and without, the three-inch heels! The Imax movie of the dinosaurs would make any kid want to be a paleontologist and go dig fossils in Mongolia.

Dinner, despite our wandering around trying to find a place to seat 18 at 8:30 on a Friday night, turned out great. The Asian fusion spot in the hotel turned out to be our best bet, and they were able to seat us ALL right away. The conversation was fast and furious – we are a loud bunch of educators, and we have so much to share! I was soaking up most of it, making mental (and audio recorded) notes on specific tools, websites, and toys that others mentioned. Dennis Richards got the ball rolling at one point where he asked our end of the table to share one new tool we were excited about. I shared my Olympus WS-110 audio recorders (I heard about them on Wes Fryer’s blog) which have served me and my students well over the last three months. Dennis Richards shared Mind42, a mind mapping web app that can be used collaboratively and will save all of the various iterations as you go. I also mentioned the Mac Heist software purchasing opportunity – the iStop Motion and SnapZPro alone made it a deal for me – but apparently the 15 day window is now closed. Next year maybe?. Maria Knee brought up the Snowball Mic, which she just got for her classroom, and a case for the video recorder that I need to ask the name of again. The case makes it possible for the kindergarten students to hold the recorder safely and securely while they use it. There was so much more – I have to do better at taking notes! At least I know the answers are but a tweet away on Twitter, or better yet, just a question away while I enjoy the rest of the f2f conference for the next two days. Check Flickr for pictures from all the attendees tagged educon20.

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Twitter Connections

Over the past couple of days there has been a lengthy discussion on Jen Wagner’s blog about Twitter. There were several comments with which I identified, primarily around the idea that Twitter is an instant connection with things happening in real time, things one might miss if merely relying on RSS feed or email. I always appreciate a tweet with a link to a UStream presentation or webcast about to happen. It’s also helpful to have folks I don’t have in my RSS tweet with a new blog post. I’m all about functionality and connection.

What I don’t necessarily understand is the transformation into concerns about “friends”. It may be that I’m still to new to the connectedness of web 2.0 tools to have long-term connections online with folks. It may be that I am naturally reserved and tend to pretty clearly separate professional and personal spaces. While there Twitter Teamare posts that don’t fall into the informative category – some attempting humor, some individual responses – I just skip them as irrelevant and move on to the next tweet with something interesting for me to click to.

Overall, I have found Twitter to be a great way to broaden my scope of information regarding education and technology. I’m less isolated and much less dependent on any hierarchy of access to technology information in my school district. I’m empowered and connected; I thank those I follow on Twitter for contributing to both.


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Talking with the Seedlings on a Sunday afternoon

I had a great experience yesterday.  Once again, my Twitter alert brought opportunity knocking.  Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes, both of whom I follow, alerted the world to the Seedlings current streaming podcast with educators from New Zealand.  The key part to the post was the inclusion of the website where they were broadcasting, and which chat room to join.   I jumped at the chance to participate, putting aside my grading to join in this live conversation.

New Zealand - Neuseeland   Zwischen Raglan und HamiltonAs usual for me, I started chiming in via the text chat.  The teachers from the small Motumaoho School in Morrinsville, New Zealand were participating in an in-service day and started with this conference-Skype and broadcast with the Seedlings in Maine. The conversation focused on how to incorporate web 2.0 tools into their students’ experience. They had started using some of the tools, but using their network they realized that Bob Sprankle, Cheryl and Alice had a wealth of knowledge to draw upon.  It made total sense to talk to them about how to proceed, and to use some of the tools in the process. The back and forth of ideas, methods and tools to try seemed, to this somewhat peripheral participant, to be informative on both sides of the conversation. Check out their Motumaoho School Blog to see what they did with the rest of their day – I would LOVE a workshop day like this one!

I was fascinated by the description of their school and the local control that they enjoy.  The key phrase for me was the statement that they (to paraphrase) “teach students, not curriculum”.  This is not to say that they don’t have outcomes at each level (not tied to grade level but performance levels – how lovely!), but that they have the flexibility to reach the standards with whatever tools they have at hand which best meet the needs of the individual students.   At a time when our schools seem to be headed for greater uniformity, consolidation and teaching to whatever high stakes test is on the horizon, this approach from New Zealand was refreshing.

After a bit, the teachers at the Motumaoho School went on with other agenda items and dropped out of the chat, and  Cheryl, Alice and Bob invited me to Skype in and join them.  Wow! Ok, not only was it my first conference-skype, I was actually going to be on the Seedlings podcast!  They were great at getting me up and running right away, and my built in mic on my MacBook Pro seemed to do ok.  I definitely want to get a headset with a mic for better sound, though.  I enjoyed talking with the Seedlings about my recent entrance on the web 2.0 scene, describing briefly how my initial network of 4, the three Seedlings and Vicki Davis, has now translated to a rich network of educators from around the world in just about a month.   I also referenced the article that the Times Record ran on my classroom, which has had great responses.  The best part has been running into parents in the community who saw the article and had favorable comments about it. Anything that gets positive parental involvement or interest in the schools is good in my book.   Last but not least, I was able to contribute a couple of geek of the week links near the end of the podcast.   I didn’t know where I found the links at the time of the podcast, but it turns out they were from the EdTechTalk delicious page, which is a great resource and is the foundation for the Ed Tech Weekly show on Sunday evening on Edtechtalk.com.

What a great way to use an hour of a Sunday afternoon! Big thanks to Cheryl, Alice and Bob for the opportunity to join their Seedlings podcast for the day, and for their ongoing outreach to those of us new to the read-write web.

*photo credit : Picture somewhere between Raglan and Hamilton New Zealand, near Morrinsville.  Image from Flickr, by Traveling Pooh  http://www.flickr.com/photos/thbecker/     Use : Creative Commons 2.0

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Skype instant gratification

Thanks to Alice Barr, I not only set up my skype, I got to talk to a real person! This may seem old hat to many, but the speed at which I went from figuring out how to add a contact, to finding a contact, to messaging, to talking . . took no time at all. Really, about 2 minutes until Alice got in touch, then 10 minutes to get talking. This whole experience is really feeding my instant gratification needs. With any luck I’ll be able to do a skype conversation with the Seedlings at some point – that will be really fun!

The key to it all is the support one feels through the various means of contact. Learning with others, and watching their learning happen via comments and posts in the ning gives me confidence to dive right in. Knowing there is someone out there with some answers when I get stuck is also key. The where and when is truly less crucial (despite my instant gratification example above), and the duration can fit my window of opportunity. I’m suddenly seeing many more windows!

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Tweet alert starts the ball rolling

It all started with a tweet from Vicki Davis that she was about to be on Wow2 with David Warlick. I should back up to say that the reason I get Vicki’s tweets is that she was the only person I knew that was on twitter – so when I signed up I opted to follow her tweets. Good thing. I thought it would be neat to hear a Wow2 webcast, so I went to the link. Then I realized I needed the Java update . . .and that Safari wouldn’t work . . .but that Firefox would . . and how to make an account . . and where to log in to the webcast . .found the listening part . . had to access help to find the backchannel chat, but finally found my way in. Wahoo! I am swimming! I had to work at it to keep up with the audio and read the backchannel – wow, that was a fast read. I did manage to toss in one comment, but my connection is perhaps not as speedy as I thought before the streaming/chatting experience, so I opted to listen and read. David’s comment that his blogs take 10 minutes . . .made me realize that as long as there is something I want to comment on, I could probably do it and get it out there – and not worry about the polish too terribly much. Thus the post you are reading now . . .

I sit here, amazed that I managed to find my way in and around, but also pleased and excited for the next experience. David Warlick’s 2¢Worth post today about teachers teaching themselves – since that’s how we learned most of this already anyhow – seemed a little cavalier in terms of assuming that teachers (the understood “good” teachers) would figure it out for themselves. When I bring things back to my peers, I get a lot of blank stares – not out of a disregard for the concepts or applications, but out of a lack of frame of reference. WE DONT KNOW WHAT WE DONT KNOW. The issue isn’t how to teach it to the teachers, but how to get them hooked up so the get the information about new technology. They don’t have a stream for this stuff yet. We need to get the teachers connected, get the administration aware and supportive, and for heavens sake unblock access to the resources.

That’s my 10 minute post for tonight. 🙂

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Getting Started

I’m getting up and running with my blog. The ACTEM MaineEd conference over the past two days has given me the motivation to get a blog up and running, and to consolidate some of my various and scattered web content with one front page. My plan is to make this my main blog and to revamp a primary website that can serve as something of a starting point for the rest of everything.

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