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NECC Takeaways

Shareology.org– A free resource made available by the Nicholas Foundation. There are a number of things going on there but the one I was really interested in is designed to enable large scale resource sharing, communication and cooperation among teachers. We were starting to cobble together a way to share, tag, rate, and review lesson plans and resources between our Instructional Technology Trainers. Shareology is offering a hosted package designed to help teachers do exactly this. It also supports variable levels of security, easy to set up user groups, blogging and discussion boards. There’s an example site for math teachers in a district similar in size to HCPS (50,000 or so). It’s a little locked down in terms of privacy but that’s one option some people will like. The fact that it’s free and hosted would make it ideal for a lot of places with over stretched IT departments and tight budgets.

Simile Exhibit Project – VA History SOLs

So I finally managed to get Exhibit working. Which is pretty impressive considering I’ve been working on it during NECC and I’ve failed a few times before. The site is up here. The death locations aren’t correct right now but I welcome any feedback you’d care to give. I think it has some really interesting potential in enabling students to interact with and see relationships between different types of data (geography/time/facts/eras). Plus it looks pretty, is interactive and you can click to sort/categorize everything on the fly. I used the same layouts used in their Presidents example. I took what they’d done and changed categories, some css etc. to create information that was more relevant to what we have to study. It was something of a hassle to get this done but I think it was worth it and I’m working on creating a basic template to allow teachers to put the data into a Google spreadsheet and drive the site through that. Here’s a short video showing what it can do. Click here if you can’t see anything below.

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Model Classroom with Jerome Burg – “Of Mice and Men” – n07s809

This was my favorite session so far. I’d liked the work Mr. Burg was doing with google lit trips so I decided to check this one out. Things I liked. The focus was on quick easy technology to directly impact student engagement and learning- no fancy programs, no high level of skill needed He did it all with only one computer He focused on the little tricks that enable things to work smoothly It was a hands on student project So enough teasing- here’s what the man said about how he has students create a graphic novel based on “Of Mice and Men.” All quotes are not literal but the best I could do. He starts off not telling the students the name of the book. That means no baggage from kids who heard the book sucked from a friend etc. plus it’s got an air of mystery. Then the class is divided into groups (setting, characters, plot, theme) They’re sent to Google image search to look for images of “Of Mice and Men” that represent their group assignment. This leads to a lot of pre-thinking and gets the kids interested. The pictures are then submitted to the teacher The teacher makes a quick slide show of the images (grouping them w/o telling the kids by setting etc.). He had […]

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Is there a 2.0 version of leadership?

Gordon Dahlby, West Des Moines Community SD with Larry Anderson Monday, 6/25/2007, 8:30am–9:30am; GWCC B208 Today’s leaders must invest in self and their staff and students. We’ll share habits and resources for leadership development highlighting opportunities that new technologies provide. I didn’t get a whole lot out of this one. There were some interesting points and some good quotes but it wasn’t quite the concrete session I was looking for. I’d like to see someone doing kind of a walk through which takes me through a progression of building leadership through technology. Kind of like – we started w/ blogs to enable blah blah and then were able to move on to wikis which added this, that and the other. Or you could approach it through aspects of leadership and what technologies would best support each aspect and why. One of the key points I though was worth focusing on was that leaders create other leaders. It’s all about pulling up the whole group. I don’t think we do too much of that, with intention, in education. I’m not sure I do enough of that. I might end up helping too much rather than building competency. It’s hard to walk that line. There was a pretty good interview with a google employee that pretty much described the opposite of a […]

Tagging Network Feed

Vicki from Cool Cat Teacher mentioned something I hadn’t thought about before regarding del.icio.us networks. Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to create a rss feed based on your network and keyword(s). I know I can get a direct feed from my network but I’d like to be able to sort things based on keyword. I could then do some really interesting collaborative work in web sites without having to manually add anything (I know I’m that lazy). Maybe this is possible now and I’m missing something simple. I’ve looked in the Network view and didn’t see it. Manually adding keywords above like http://del.icio.us/network/bionicteacher/history doesn’t work (although the page refreshes to taunt you into thinking it does work so you get all excited late at night). I tried the link roll option and isn’t built in. I then tried to force it by manually editing the script and failed there as well (that could be through sheer ignorance though). Finally, the other place it would fit perfectly is in subscriptions. Since you can subscribe to tags by user here it seemed like I might be able to put in history as the tag and network/bionicteacher as the user and get only history tagged items from my network. This didn’t work either. So I’m stumped. Can anyone enlighten me? I’ve […]

24

Edubloggercon 2007 Classroom 2.0

We had an interesting session with Steve Hargadon moderating (very good at moderating by the way) on “Creating an action plan for developing good repositories of lesson plans and training for the use of technology and Web 2.0 applications in the classroom.” It’s covered well in the notes and I think there were some good ideas broached but it isn’t likely to be easy. I could be pessimistic simply because of the difficulties in getting this done on a much smaller scale in our district. Steve and Vicki are much bigger players than I am so who knows? I’d love to be proven wrong. Even deciding on tags is likely to be more difficult than it appears. There needs to be a lot of forethought going into what kinds of tags would work across state standards and how different each school district is. You’ll need nice broad tags but if they are too broad they won’t be very useful. You could use middle school as a tag but I don’t think you’ll ever get say 6th grade. Even things like life science may vary a good bit in content. Although at some point I guess you just have to make a choice as nothing is perfect. You also have to keep things economical enough for the tagger that it is […]

Virtual Learning Communitites

This session was led by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (man I wish I went to W&M for grad school instead of VT) and did not involve Pee Wee Herman. Photo by Alan Light Of Dubious Import to Anyone Else There was a lot of conversation debating what community is and what makes a person a member of a community. The majority seemed to feel that you had to give back to the community. I guess I differ in my thinking as to what giving back is. Steve Dembo said “action has to be part of it” but I wonder if we’re not defining action too narrowly- In this case if the goal is to change education so if you take what you learn from the community and go out and change your piece of education you are giving back to the community because you are accomplishing its goals (even if the community is unaware of it). Maybe that’s too flaky. Or if you take what you learn one place and use it to contribute elsewhere it’d seem to me you were expanding the community by proxy as you’re expanding the reach of it’s shared values, goals etc. Simply belonging does impact and help shape a community. If Pee Wee Herman joins your ning community it would change how others (even members) view […]

23

Edubloggercon 2007 Google Earth Session

This branched out into Google Maps, Sketchup and even Swivel. I heard about some great projects being done by 4th and 5th graders using sketchup to create Incan (or Mayan?) ruins and then putting them in Google Earth. I’m really interested in seeing the examples but don’t have a link yet. The most interesting part of the discussion to me was a reminder of the googlelookup function in Google spreadsheets. You can use it to look up latitude/longitude coordinates for cities it appears and the use it to create an xml file. The cool thing to do would be to generate that data, the city’s population, avg. temp etc. (whatever interesting data you can pull through lookup or manually) and then push it to Swivel. And then, and then, and then you embed the Swivel data in the info window for each city. It’s sad how exciting that seems to me. Besides that I got some good links to look at later which are posted in del.icio.us if you’re interested.

23

Expanding the Circle Session

A lot of great people and a lot of “famous” edubloggers (I sometimes wonder what impact that fame has on these conversations- real and virtual, good and bad.) It was really nice to meet a lot of people I’d only written to. Now down to business. Expanding the Circle – ebc07ec My take on some of the more concrete ideas- Get an active recruitment/mentoring team going as most people are “brought in” by others. This could be planned or happen naturally. Don’t be afraid to use the heartstrings to motivate. Teachers are teachers because they care Get people personally motivated and then branch out to curricular uses. You need hooks for your various audiences – admins, teachers, students, parents Social networks are nice because you have a built in audience. There’s no “frontier feeling” that you’re out in the middle of nowhere hoping vainly someone will read you someday. There’s some comfort in that but it’s also intimidating to join a big established network because it feels like the training wheels are off way too soon. Maybe an attractive scenario would be to create a small social network to get everyone warmed up and then move to a larger one. Steve‘s comment (I’m paraphrasing) that the sessions would have been better on a blog rang true to me. There wasn’t […]

Edubloggercon and NECC

I’m living on vitamin C and Sobe Energy Gold so if I’m a little twitchy you’ll know why. I just got back Tuesday from a great time in Florida with Colleen Glaude and Michelle Bourgeois. They’re both Apple Distinguished Educators (I’ll be seeing Colleen in CA this summer for Apple Camp). They were doing some powerful (and fun) work with teachers from Pensacola and I got to come down and participate for the first day. The energy and effort they, and their teachers, brought to the training was amazing. I had a blast. I think this quote from a participating teachers sums things up best. But I really blogged in to tell Colleen and Michelle once again what a really awesome summer camp DLSI III was. I don’t use the the word _awesome_ readily; in fact, I don’t use it because its root _awe_should be reserved for the most inspirational and awe-inspiring things. It is obvious that you two worked hard on this inservice; plus, you kept the energy level going throughout the days. Congrats and thank you for a most successful inservice I’m headed to Edubloggercon tomorrow morning! Then it is on to NECC! It’s going to be an exciting time. I’m looking forward to my first national edtech conference and the chance to meet some people I’ve been […]