Sunday, July 5, 2009

Here Comes Learning!

Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach co-founded Powerful Learning Practice and they have made it their business to help educators transform their practice. They started out their session by showing this video clip:

What do you think this kid is trying to do?
Why did he use this platform to do it?

The discussion that Will and Sheryl held in this session was so meaty and powerful that I had trouble figuring out how to bring it to you in a blog post...and I almost didn't. Fortunately, I was able to find the majority of it archived here on Istevision. Please take the time to watch this and soak up their knowledge. It can really change the way you look at learning.

Are you connecting? What can we do to help you? Let's make it happen!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Personal Learning Networks in Second Life

Discovery Education teacher leaders in Second Life came to share with us about how to build your Personal Learning Network in Second Life.

If you've never heard of Second Life, it's described on their site as "a free online virtual world imagined and created by its Residents. From the moment you enter Second Life, you'll discover a fast-growing digital world filled with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity."
So basically, most anything you can do in real life you can do in Second Life!

Educators everywhere are discovering that they are able to get just in time professional development by virtual participation in Second Life. The first step is creating an avatar and learning how to navigate your way around the virtual world. A great suggestion we were given was to find a friend that can help you. If you don't know anyone in Second Life now, simply friend one of these educators and explain you are new to Second Life. Their Second Life names are:

Beth Kohnke
Lor Fredriksson
Unklar Klaar
Vita Demina

Second Life allows you the ability to build your PLN by joining groups where opportunities are available. If you follow the Discovery Educator Blog and Wiki you will be able to see when activities are available.

Caledon Oxbridge University is a teacher friendly space. They have free dormitory space for teachers as well as a classroom available for teacher use. You just need to contact them to reserve it. They also have activities to help newbies enter into the world of Second Life.

Limitless learning is available to you. Jump in and get started!

New Technology Tricks for Old Dogs: Use What You Know

At Kathleen Risolvo's K-5 School in Chicago, IL they began integrating technology by planning some group activities in classrooms with a variety of technologies and found innovative ways to introduce these technologies to teachers in training.

One innovative training technique they used was a speedgeeking event - Kind of like speed dating where each station had a quick review of a technology tool or application that the attendees had to visit and then move on. I personally loved this idea and could imagine the possibilities for developing an event like that. Maybe a Google form at the end where everyone "scores" each new tool. Just thinking...

When planning technology based centers in the classroom Kathleen said that what makes them work is a specific task for each center. This would, of course, be after they had been introduced to the technology. It works to have them review a skill or research a topic. Here are some examples:
Interactive Whiteboard Center - Students must be comfortable navigating the board, make the activity self-checking and have expectations for individual student contributions.

iPod Center - Have them get videos online to watch and do an activity. One idea is to have them watch a screencast of how to do something on the computer and then do it.

Digital Camera - Used in movie mode, reader's response video or photo, interviews, all should be written out first

Teacher Guided Creation Station - This is your opportunity to work with a small group, should be higher level thinking using what the students know to create something, may need more than one rotation. Ideas include: powerpoints, newsletters, creating podcasts, movie making, tagging content and much more...

They had each student bring their own earbuds and carry them with them to each class.
Pedagogical and curriculum knowledge used to be all a good teacher needed to know, now technological knowledge is a must. The bottom line includes finding ways for teachers and students to get their hands on technology and use them to increase learning.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Teacher, Teach, Thyself: Make Your Own PD Plan

A panel of educators shared their experiences and the tools they use to direct their professional development.

How would you define PLN?
A PLN is a Personal or Professional Learning Network. One of the most common tools, currently, that has been a platform for building a PLN is Twitter. When you log into Twitter it says, "What are you doing? Educators general answer for, "What are you doing?" is learning. They are using it to share ideas, stay connected, and give and get instant feedback, in 140 characters or less.

What Tools Do You Use to Connect to Your PLN?
In this age of social networking, there are a plethora of tools used to stay connected. Twitter and Plurk are some of the most popular tools. Others include Classroom 2.0 ning, Skype, BrainPop site, Discovery Educator Network, and Facebook is also hugely popular and though some individuals stay connected to their PLN using fb, most use it on a personal rather than a professional level.

What are some of the networks in which you are a member and are active?
Panelist list:
Apple Distinguish Educator
Discovery Educator Network
National Council Teachers of Science
SmartBoard Educator Resource

In a few words what has your network done for you?
Panelist and Participants Answers:

We are on there for our own profession learning which increases the learning for our students.
You can utilize your network for you and for your curriculum.

Let's me know who I need to go to get my questions answered.

Allows me to build relationships with peers globally and has expanded my horizons.

What is the one piece of advice you would give somebody just starting to build their network?

Most advice given was done so in reference to the tool Twitter:

Go in slowly and don't overwhelm yourself.

Start small and expand over time.

Please put a profile up there.

Give it time.

Too many people apologize about being lurkers. It's ok to lurk. Learn from others.

You have to put yourself out there.

It's ok to miss stuff.

Set up groups.

What myths, misinformation, and rumors can you dispel about using the tools you connect to your PLN with?

Myth: It is full of people posting useless information.

A PLN is about building relationships, giving and receiving information to increase the learning of all students. You get to know your PLN personally because you know them professionally. They are not just nameless people you are talking to, instead, they are learners, like you, who are well known and reputable in their field.

Literacy Isn't Enough: 21st Century Fluency For the Digital Age

Teachers should ask, "Why are students here?" "How is the world changing?" "How can we help prepare our students for successful futures?" The world has changed and will continue to change at an exponential rate. It won't stop changing, so we need to reassess what we need to do in education to make sure that our students have the necessary skills. Traditionally literacy is no longer enough. We must move beyond and equip students with 21st century skills.

There are 5 Skills:

1. Obsolete Skills: May have been relevant at one time, but are no longer relevant.

2. Traditional Skills: Once very important, but not quite as important now. They aren’t essential, but they do still have some value. For example, handwriting.

3. Traditional Literacy Skills: Reading, writing, numeracy, face to face skills. Fundamental skills needed to transport skills from one generation to the next. They are essential and meed to continue to be taught.

4. Traditional Skills with Increased Emphasis: Problem solving, graphic design. They are not new, but there is an increase in the emphasis due to digital media.

5. New Skills: Unique to the Digital Age. Social networking, on-line skills.

Students need to build a set of skills to move forward. Students can’t be just good consumers as they may have been in the past, rather they must also be good producers of content. Called prosumers these students need to simultaneously be consumers and producers. "What world are we preparing our students for?" "Their future or our past?" If kids leave the school without 21st century skills, they won’t be ready for our global marketplace.

Students must have the traditional literacy skills, while at the same time developing fluencys, or unconscious skills--sort of like riding a bike. There are three fluencys; Technology, Media, and Information.

1. Technological fluency: Students must have the transparent use of digital tools which focus on the head ware not the hardware.

2. Media fluency: Students must be able to look critically at media sources (blogs, wikis, tv shows) and how the information is influencing their opinions. Students must be able to use the most appropriate media to get their message across. Digital natives look like they have media skills but they have huge gaps in knowledge. We need to have students producing products, at all grade levels, all students.

3. Information Fluency : Students need the ability to unconsciously and intuitively get the essential message. They must be able to ask good questions, get answers and acquire the information. Digital resources are the raw materials, rather than the traditional paper based materials. Students must be able to analyze and synthesize. They need to be able to ask, acquire, analyze, apply (within the context of real life), and assess (on the product and the process. This is a cyclical.

What is our job?
We must progressively withdraw from our student lives teaching them to be independent self-directed learners. To often we teach them to rely on us for information fostering the dependency. Our role needs to be facilitator of learning, because information and data is growing exponentially. Teachers can't be experts in all areas, so we need to teach students to be thinkers and researchers and problem solvers. The digital natives of today are completely different and not the students we were trained to teach. If we want success, we must give them assignments that require thought.

Where do we go from here?
Visit this site or
Email and in the subject line say, "I need to be committed."