Monthly Archives: June 2007

NECC Takeaways 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

Simile Views
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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Then the class is divided into groups (setting, characters, plot, theme)
  3. 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
  4. The teacher makes a quick slide show of the images (grouping them w/o telling the kids by setting etc.). He had a banjo song playing in the background for this novel.
  5. Then students are asked to describe the setting, characters, plot, theme based on what they saw on the slide show. They fill out a graphic organizer based on what they think they know.
  6. He then uses what the students say about the book to talk about the themes but without using the term. “So this book is about friendship . . . you’ve got friends right?”
  7. He then starts off the reading. He doesn’t have kids read aloud b/c he sees as lessening comprehension and adding a lot of tension and boredom.
  8. While students are searching for images he’s gotten into costume, in this case a bandanna and old hat. He starts off by saying “I wonder if you’ll indulge me. My teacher used to read to me and it was my favorite thing in the world and I’d like to read to you.”
  9. One of his tricks is to use his projector to create a backdrop for his reading that reflects the setting of the book. The lights are also low and being in front of the projector creates a theatrical spot light effect.
  10. He gives a pretty serious performance- this is straight acting. Not all teachers would be ready to do this and he’s got some skill.
  11. He says he basically reads the entire book to the class. I’m sure some people would disagree with this. I’m not sure how I feel but as it’s high school he’s dealing with a different population. If you’re teaching people to read or read better then you probably have to get them reading on their own but if they have no interest they aren’t going to be reading anyway.
  12. After reading the first chapter the students re-evaluate the plot, setting etc. using the graphic organizer.
  13. They do this for each chapter.
  14. Their next job is to storyboard their group’s chapter using stick figures. It’s real basic drawing but attention has to be paid to character placement and where word bubbles will go. The focus is on thematic correctness as opposed to sticking exactly to the story. The students only have 6 cells to use. This is held to pretty hard but if students can build a solid case for one more cell (lots of thinking going on there) more are possible.
  15. After all this is set up. They have one day as a class to get all their photos done. They keep the students in the same character role so as to avoid confusion even if they’re in different groups. I especially liked how quickly this was done as that’s often a big sticking point with projects like this. One key tip was to have the students take a close up picture of a hand at the end of their groups pictures to help with sorting later- kind of a visual bookmark between groups.
  16. The kids then use Comic Life to set up the pictures. They have ten minutes each to get this done.
  17. While the groups are doing this the worst Hollywood version he can find of the book is playing. This entertains the others and further gets them thinking about differences between the two and how movies of books aren’t very good.
  18. He then exports the comic book as an interactive Quicktime movie with the page turn transition. It looks slick.

Links to the worksheets etc.

necc, n07s809, necc07, necc2007, literature, of mice and men

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 school system. I’ll see if I can’t find the link to it. It was worth hearing but a little long for this format.

Larry Anderson was funny. He seems like an interesting guy but his part was pretty minor in terms of time.

Here are few more major points with my own comments in italics.

  • ideas come from everywhere
    expect everyone to contribute- seems like in schools too often it’s a few key people who do most of everything, maybe we’re not getting at everyone’s talents in the right way
  • share everything you can
    information is power
    credit for ideas is not paramount to the individual - see a lot of that with edtech bloggers
  • you’re brilliant we’re hiring
    working with a lot of smart people
    spend time with the “varsity” – might be fun/useful to bring lead tech teachers up to work with ITRT for periods of time. we’d be creating leaders, adding to their knowledge and in a way offering a reward, not that I think we’re all that, but giving subs etc. and doing something interesting with them would be worth while and a way of honoring them
  • a license to pursue dreams
    this is often harder in schools as mistakes and rules can crush a lot of dreams through simple fear
  • innovation not instant perfection
    mistakes with technology can often be disastrous for the program or your career- not how it should be but true

  • data is apolitical
    -but it can certainly be presented in a slanted way or gathered that way

  • creativity loves constraint
    I agree but it might be harder to get things rolling with lots of restraints
  • users, not money
    if you build it they will come
    if you build something useful people will come but keep in mind things are competitive- time and interest are getting scarce

  • don’t kill projects morph them
    I liked this idea. Keep things rolling, evaluate the good things, why it was worth starting and then build/modify off that.

conference, lost, necc2007, necc07, n07s686

Tagging Network Feed network tag feed?

Vicki from Cool Cat Teacher mentioned something I hadn’t thought about before regarding 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 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 tried all my own wacky ideas, maybe it’s so simple I’m missing it.

conference, lost, necc2007, edubloggercon07, ebc07cr20