Posts Tagged ‘edtech’

Backchanneling, Twittering, and Being in the Know

April 20, 2008

I recently read a post on Durff’s blog about backchanneling that got me thinking.  I would like to know if anyone is writing the insiders guide to backchanneling?!  Are there any rules, suggestions or websites that will help an infrequent twitterer, backchanneler or newbie become an insider? If there is a guide, who would be qualified to write such a thing? I mean are there self-proclaimed experts and authorities? The reason I ask is because I am wondering who are the authorities I should be listening to?  If there are indeed edtech authorities, on what merit did they become edtech leaders in the global sense?  What makes their contributions bar-setting revelations?  What have they contributed to the edtech dialogue?  What makes someone a voice for the edtech masses?  Is there a litmus test?  How do experts choose the people they accredit with certain accomplishments or cutting edge thinking.  How can we find out about all of the wonderful leaders in edtech who remain buried in the morass of backchanneling, twittering, chatting and more. There are frankly so many voices out there on the net it makes me wonder.  I feel there may be untapped circles of expertise that I am not yet aware of.  Will the real edtech authorities please stand up and be counted!


new small voices vodcast on podomatic

April 14, 2008

I just completed editing and posting episode 31 of small voices.  This is my third annual play based on a piece of childrens’ literature.  A friend and coworker of mine, Heidi Holcomb, soon to be EdS in EdTech loaned me a containing examples of literature illustrating the butterfly effect.  I wondered how readily my students would make the connection between the cats in our story and the safety of the island. They listened intently to the tale.  I told the initially to listen carefully to see if they could solve the problem on the island. They each wanted to be the one to find the answer! Stories can be excellent teachers when students assume a role/purpose within the context of the a book.

My role was to ask questions and to help the students take ownership of the play. I call it a play but in reality it would take months to be able to produce this kind of thing sequentially and before an audience. Videotaping is the answer.  It enables the teacher to reduce each the play to scenes or even parts when filming. With 18 enthusiastic kindergarteners, the rule is divide and conquer!  Parental help is key as is a mind reading assistant.  I had both!  See for yourself. The editing is so so but I think you’ll agree, the movie is a living lesson for these children.

I found this lesson plan today based on the book I used.  Some of you may find this helpful in creating your own plans.

Wonderful Project HP & Brian C Smith Support Teacher Innovation

April 9, 2008

pond partner project

This is a wonderful example of what children can be motivated to produce with guidance from motivated teachers! This is by far the best example I have see thus far of teacher,

student and technology integration/collaboration at the elementary level. I am very encouraged by Brian’s work on this project and plan to get more details from him, show parts of the recorded video to my staff and hopefully inspire this kind of innovation at my own school.

ELA integration into science curric

Brian’s project also has a wiki:

This incredible collaboration shows teachers how they can develop a strong interest in science investigation among students, compassion for the environment, the use tech tools such as probes to collect data, ELA skills of documentation, the excitement of project based learning and collaboration across grade levels.

inquiry based learning

This is possible. This is what we should be striving for. Please, can we move beyond dioramas and posters. Think big! Use Multi-media and empower students to educate the world!

What if Lincoln had used Power Point…

March 5, 2008

Joyce Valenza Media SpecialistLast night on Women of Web 2, Joyce Valenza, Media Specialist extraordinare shared why she poses this question to her students,”What if Lincoln had used Power Point to deliver the Gettysburg Address.” This hypothetical question may be applied to any historic speech and what a great way to get students using their higher order thinking skills. Joyce calls the Media Center a Libratory, a place for practice, presenting, creating and sharing a center for communication/information sharing. She has over 30 years of experience in education and a Phd. but there is nothing stale about her approach. Here is her Virtual Library providing you with access to some excellent resources.

Tech Fair or UnFair?

February 2, 2008

I spent this morning judging elementary school projects at the county tech fair competition. Students from grades 3-6 present their projects as teams or as individuals to a team of judges. This is my 4th year as a judge and I have observed many changes in the process and in the content presented by these children. The committee has become a well oiled machine. This year they added bar coded identification for participants and an access database to post rubric results. There was no waiting for tallys, the computer produced a wonderful report of the winners in each category.The only trouble I could see was in the categories themselves. Technology has improved so much and programs have gained so much functionality that digital video can be found in FLASH animation, stills can be found in windows Movie Maker and all of the above can be found in Internet projects. The lines have blurred and the rubrics don’t fit the product.

When projects don’t fit neatly into distinctive categories how can they be judged appropriately?I was most impressed by the technical expertise displayed by the students. The technical terminology, the understanding of the steps and the process was remarkable. Some had macs, others had PC’s and the variety of software packages blurred the distinctions further. It got me thinking about the real purpose for having a tech competition in the first place. Judges ranged from tech specialists, to teachers to student teachers. Background experience varied widely. One tech specialist said that the content was not as important as the technology and the skill used to apply the technology. I wonder, is that really the purpose? Shouldn’t the real purpose be to use technology to enhance learning and to extend the learning experience via integrating technology into the curriculum?

There was no place on the rubric for standards neither ISTE nor GPS (Georgia’s). There was no way to judge the whether or not a student had an established goal or purpose. There was no way to judge the academic value of the project. Today I viewed Digital Video projects only to discover that Windows Movie Maker and Photostory 3 with all stills somehow made this category. I would have put them into Multi-Media. Next year the lines will blur further. Think about it, you can even export a Power Point as a movie! I may need to get involved in changing the rubrics to reflect real 21st learning and technology integration. The students are doing wonderful work but they need to be judged more fully and more equitably.

PS. The little on-line program below falls into which category? Would it be Non animated graphic design? Most of the 3-5 graders used Paint for that category. How would this cartoon be compared?

clipped from

Tech Fair Judge

Categories have many blurred lines between them.

By sendkathy on 2008-02-02 17:03 | 0 Views

tags : edtech

  blog it

Harnessing a Tiger or Using Technology in the Classroom

January 4, 2008

Did you ever feel that letting technology loose in the classroom would be like releasing a hungry tiger? I’m not referring to the affable Tony, but rather to the one you fear and revere for it’s strength and beauty. There is a tiger loose in the classroom and it’s ripping through my lesson plans, dismembering the headphones, and forcing me to harness his power in order to control the chaos. I am trying to plan for the second semester and it would be so much simpler to remove technology from the equation but much less exciting.

I wrestle with ways to incorporate voicethread, podcasting, and the like on a regular basis. I don’t want to tame the tiger. I want to use him to enthrall and engage my students. I want them to follow him to new worlds, new ideas and help them grow in their love of learning. Harnessing a tiger is very impracticle so like Pi I must remain in a state of high alert, making changes, and trying to anticipate the highly unpredictable advances which are in our future.

Kindle, Kindling and Book Burning

November 28, 2007

This week I am taking the easy way out! Here is my response to another notable post on the TechLearning Blog by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Can you imagine a world without paperbacks, big books or magazines? How is technology enhancing the desirability that digital print? Isn’t a paperback created using digital print? Discover what generated my response by seeking her post The Future of Reading.

I used to be far too impatient to read. I too wanted to “unlock the secrets” more quickly. Actually I really wanted to live the book, not read about it! Now I can see the beauty of listening to a story unfold inside my head. It is an extraordinary experience and like you Sheryl, I wanted my kids to absorb the wonders of reading so I amassed a varied collection of children’s books and read aloud to them until they reached middle school.

My first impressions of Kindle, from what I can tell by its’ size, shape and concept are appealing. The preview, however, reveals a black and white screen and I recoil slightly wondering how I would manage to live without seeing the book cover in color. It occurs to me that the new book smell would also be absent and while this could be remedied with a spray my reluctance festered. The texture of cold plastic, versus the feel of soft, smooth paper sheets made me wonder how comfy I would be propped up on my pillow viewing a screen like the one I stare at most of the day. The words organic and sensual came to mind. Not that I read lurid, torrid tales, I prefer engaging tales of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The kind with human struggles, drama and hard won happiness.

No, Kindle holds little interest for me. I like variety in my modes of reading from cereal boxes to traffic signs to computer screens to good old fashioned paperback books. I hope I don’t offend anyone if I admit that I prefer the real thing in bed. (books that is) Recently I wrote about an electronic magazine medium which I do think has promise. It is every bit as satisfying as a high quality glossy magazine. See what you think.

The surveys quoted perplex me. I wonder how they account for the text messaging explosion. If all of the messages could be converted to book quantities then would we find a decrease in reading and writing or just a change in the way we read and write? If literary readers are more likely to engage in politics or volunteering then how do we account for the recent Pakistani protests coordinated by massive texting networks? Things are changing, shifting and the quality is changing. If people decide they love the Kindle then it will continue to be on Christmas lists for years to come. If not then it may just become kindling for a bigger fire.

Posted by: kathy shields | November 27, 2007 2:06 AM

Your Number One Goal – Eliminate Boredom

October 24, 2007

The words of Marc Prensky are still finding spaces and places inside my brain. He issues his commands not as a dictator but as a benevolent leader in the world of educational technology. If the name doesn’t trigger any Pavlovian responses then maybe the term ‘digital native’ will. His 2001 book, Digital Game-Based Learning was a global hit. Prensky espouses a metaphor based learning experience. His background uniquely equips him to install the metaphor in a gaming platform to create goal oriented, self-directed educational programs. How can teachers apply this metaphor in the classroom to achieve increased motivation and self directed learning? It is one thing to create an alternative game-world and another to live in the harsh light of the classroom.

“What do we NOT have to teach?” ..get rid of multiplication tables, he insisted. Kids should be engaged in productivity and not relentless repetition. (my interpretation) Hmm, and … Prensky used an analogy and his ppt slide to illustrate the paradigm shift in culture between the under 2o somethings and the rest of us. A dimly lit slide with few words appeared. That’s us, he noted and went on to explain that we lived in the dark and went to school for enlightenment. Now, according to Prensky, kids live in the light and come to school only to become powered down dim shadows of themselves. “They are NOT little us’s.” My own analogy sees the de-teching-of-students process as a daily de-clawing. Some consider de-clawing inhumane while others agree that if the cat(student) is to remain indoors and never encounter any predators (real world problems) it’s simply practical and efficacious to de-claw. Is that any way for us to prepare our future leaders? Must we strip them of their resources and potential? I suppose the alternative is even scarier, even to me. So we create boredom?

Prensky believes we underestimate what kids can do. We need to understand their unique point of view as digital natives. They are a culture of people who value sharing, teaching each other and collaborating. In general, the older generations valued knowledge as power. Knowledge is no longer a commodity, or is it? If the younger generations have a different world view and they are engaged as digital citizens constructing networks, sharing knowledge and learning in spite of school, then what can school offer them? Eliminate boredom. Hmm…

You know why Prensky is truly a genius? It’s simple. He goes to the source. REsources, he says means more than one source. He asks kids at every opportunity to share their ideas with him. He values children. He cultivates them and respects them and he thinks this may be what’s missing in education. Have you asked your students to tell you what they’d like to learn? Have you given them the freedom to solve relevant problems? Have you invited them to share in classroom decisions regularly? How do you feel about surrendering control to the students? Do you think there is a way to harness the power of cell phones and ipods for education? What do you tell them when they get bored? Do you tell them learning isn’t always fun? Do you really believe that? Eliminate boredom. Hmm…

Can everyday really be filled with meaning, purpose, engagement, community, interactivity and learning?

K-12 On-line Conference

October 17, 2007

I swooped down on the k12 online conference and it left me breathless. My heart is racing the way it races in compulsive gambler entering a casino after a long break. I’ve been tied up with classes and sadly, the edtech world has been zooming along without me. With little time to explore even now as I prepare for my comprehensive exams, I investigated the presentations posted today and landed on one by Konrad Glogowski. He really put blogging with students in perspective for me. He presented a wonderful metaphor for blogging entitled, How to Grow a Blog. The visuals displayed a graphic organizer based on the physical characteristics of a flower. The most compelling aspect of the presentation for me was Konrad’s case for intrinsic motivation via blogging. I plan to visit as many of the presentations as I possibly can in any moment of spare time. The k12 online conference contains the very essence of edtech available on your own time and in your own home. If you listen to any notable presentations please share them with me.