Thursday, July 22, 2010

Student Blog Options

Student blogs with 'total' teacher control is always the bugabo. We want students to create, and post, but teachers want control. What this means, is that now you must review each students' posts and returned comments before they become public. This can become a HUGE chore. Another consideration is whether to make student blogs public or just within a community. I say make the world their audience; deal with any inappropriate posts as real-life learning experiences. It's what they will experience outside of school (and probably already have) for sure.

In short, it depends on what you're looking for. Here are some I've used or explored:

Google Apps EDU - while this is not set up to provide for teacher moderation, I'm hoping to try this out this year as we'll have student accounts set up so students can make posts to others blogs and their username will be recorded.

Weebly - sign up for educator account and you can create classes with students. Students can create pages and blogs. Easy to use. I have not used with a class, but know of several teachers who do and love it.

Blogmeister - can be set up to have complete control over student posts and comments. A bit cumbersome to use. Have to sign up for school, then create teachers and students. Does allow for moving students from teacher to teacher as years progress without loosing students' posts. And automatically puts all student accounts on teacher page. I've used this one with 1st grade teachers.

I looked at this one early on, but never used with students. It had some challenges, but I don't recall what they were, and chances are they have remedied them by now. Worth checking out.

A very powerful blog site. You see it used by lots of folks. To get the good stuff, though, you've got to pay. But well worth it if you've got it. They provide tons of support.

This is yet another option. I have a couple teachers here using to provide discussion forums. It does allow moderation, but students must create their own accounts (though this might change if it becomes available within Apps EDU).

For some additional blogging resources, of which there are many, I maintain a page on my site that I continue to add new resources to when I discover them. There are many great educators with tons of great ideas for different age groups and styles of setting up, getting student/community/etc. involved in blogging.

Blogging is a great way for students to realize an authentic, potentially global, audience for their writing.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Madison's Faults - Mr. Reynolds Class Network

Madison's Faults - Mr. Reynolds Class Network

Holly cow! This student went over the top with creativity. She made a custom drawings using Smartboards Notebook program, then did a screen recording of this to create an animated image. She needed this as a video, so she used to do a screen capture to convert to video. Crazy...

Talk about a work around. She used the tools she was familiar with, and didn't give up, just kept exploring and trying new things until she got the product she wanted.

Note: the delays in the recorded voice are because she was having to wait for the Notebook program to catch up. These are old hand-me-down PC's and are not able to replay the screen capture very well. The audio was recored with Screentoaster while it was capturing the notebook recording as it played.

Again...just incredible creativity. I can only imagine what this student would be able to accomplish if she had equipment that could keep up with her creativity and ideas.

Check it out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drive - Motivation 3.0 - Moving on from the "carrot & stick" industrial models

Motivation, huh, what is it good for... 

Enjoyed Nora Young's conversation about motivation research. Relating these ideas to the needed changes in education. The carrot and stick methods of motivation are left over from the industrial age, just as our educational system. It's high time we move on, and as Daniel Pink points out, research over the past forty-years has pointed this out to us. We've just chosen to ignore it. A new examination of what motivates, especially when it comes to solving today's more complex challenges, is drastically needed.  And I would argue that we're on the verge of accomplishing.

The "higher level" motivators Pink describes: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, are exactly what we need to begin focusing upon in the education of our youth. We are selling them short (and the future) to continue to believe that simple carrots or sticks will motivate anyone to solve today's complex, global challenges.

Why do we still ignore this information, and continue with techniques that are proven to fail?

As Pink describes, rewards models work well for problems with simple, linear, focused goals.  If tunnel vision is what you're looking for - one correct way to solve (get to the end) of this problem, then reward away, however, this is not the case when the goal is to educate.  We want to create problem solvers that can adapt to the challenges of an unknown future and think outside of the "box of tacks" to come up with new solutions. For this, he points out, we need to tap into the more intrinsic motivators, the exact motivators that are continually ignored in education: giving young learners purpose to what they learn, allowing them to achieve mastery by digging deeper into subjects and not just scratching the surface, and lastly creating an environment where autonomy is expected.  That is learners take a responsibility for their own learning.

I've been having this very conversation with colleagues and students.  The whole idea of setting the bar so low that students have now need or desire to achieve.  While they might complain, students have told me they want to be challenge, they want to feel they are learning something that requires high standards.  If we can more our student motivators to the higher level, intrinsic variety, and away from the stale carrots, I think we'd be surprised at just what students accomplish.

The short version:

or, check out the full interview here:
Spark 109 – April 11 & 13, 2010 | Spark | CBC Radio

Carrot Photo by Madeline Nicole

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pixar University's Randy Nelson on Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age | Edutopia

What are 21st Century Employers "Really" looking for? I really like this view on how to make collaboration really work.

This is a video I plan to share at my next PD opportunity.

Pixar University's Randy Nelson on Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age | Edutopia

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Create Data Visualizations Using Google Fusion

This is an incredibly powerful tool. Watch the brief video to get an idea of the possibilities. Help student see that data is a tool to see trends and make predictions and analysis.

How to Creat

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Using Instant Messaging to Engage Children with Reading Comprehension |

Tom Barrett always has some great ideas about using Google tools in the classroom. What struck me most in this post was the affirmation that teachers need collaboration time. His "few minutes" of exploring ideas with another teacher gave him the ideas of this post. If you don't follow Tom's blog or tweets, I'd highly suggest you add him to your PLN.

Using Instant Messaging to Engage Children with Reading Comprehension |

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Inspiration Art/technology Blend

Stumbled upon this performance on TED. And was inspired to post it hear as an inspiration of the possibilities for self-expression. There is a revolution at foot, and we have only scratched the surface.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Video Conferencing

Over the past few weeks our classrooms have been connecting with students across the country in a program called RAP - Read Around the Planet, that encourages students to read to each other across a live video connection. With seven classes participating, we have connected with classrooms from California to Queens, NY. We even spoke to one school that had 20 different languages spoken in the classroom. A real eye-opener to Eureka Students.

Mrs. Dunn's 4th grade also connected with NASA to learn about Ham Radio.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

5 Dangerous Things for kids

Why I think I can fix things!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bozeman HS Opens Door to Tech Learning Revolution

Bozeman High School students used to hide their iPods and cell phones, fearing teachers would confiscate the devices if students were caught texting friends or listening to music in class or school hallways.

Now the electronic gadgets are out in the open, legal to use in the high school’s common areas and between classes.

Instead of fighting students’ passion for connecting to each other and the world through personal gadgets, the Bozeman schools have decided to join them, and turn what could be electronic toys into tools in a technologic revolution in education.

“It could change the way teachers teach,” said Ken Gibson, a Bozeman High assistant principal. “It’s almost scary, understanding the potential.”
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, January 15, 2010

Collaborative Board Presentation

Students and I put together this Gpres with video links (waiting to be able to embed your own videos directly into presentation, hint, hint show parents and board members what kind of technology Eureka Students have been up to this year. Student who spoke to the board did an outstanding job. I wish I had recorded their presentations to add to this. Next time.

Thanks kiddos for taking the time to share your work and thoughts on integrating technology into your school work. Let's shift our schools into the 21st century together.

This past year of my Lesley education I have been able to put many of the ideas, learning and resources gained through a variety of classes into direct practice. And now, partly afforded by this continued education and partly due to a commitment from my district and myself, I have moved from being a single classroom teacher to being an instructional technologist for our entire school district. This is a position I have coveted for several years, and am thankful for the professional growth I have gained which has made it a reality.
For the last twenty-two months, while in the Master of Educational Technology program we have been exploring a wide variety of emerging technologies, and now, as a final project for the class with the same name, I would like to present a project that could not be more relevant to my personal productivity. At the request of the school superintendent, the students and I have collaboratively created a presentation of technology uses across our district. Mind you we have only been at this integration of technology for six months now, and still the accomplishments, achieved by the students who have benefitted from it all, are impressive. On the night of the presentation we left several board members with their jaws hanging open as a fourth grade student described in detail the complicated process of acquiring digital images from a donated cell phone for use in the creation of a class book project as if it were second nature. Not to mention the second graders who talked about translating their emails into any language they needed prior to sending them.
The Google presentation along with links to videoed interviews and examples of student work can be accessed from this link, but for this paper I’d like to discuss in more detail the process of creating this presentation, along with some of the challenges and solutions.
Student Technology Presentation
The Process
The initial challenge was how to allow students from ages 5-17 the ability to participate in this presentation. For one, a 7:30pm school board meeting is past the bed-time of some first graders. Not to mention the fact that, put on stage, they would likely freeze up and not be able to share at all. The simplest solution to this was to pre-record student interviews to be played as part of the presentation. This worked great, as it allowed the younger students to share what they have done and gave them a venue that was comfortable and unintimidating. I think this come through clearly in the sincere and open comments captured on video.
Using a Sony Camcorder, I captured the students’ responses to the question “how have you been using technology in your classroom?” Using Windows Movie Maker I then edited this down to a 2-3 minute collection of responses in three categories: Blogging Buddies, RAZ Kids and Special Projects. The challenge here was not the actual editing, but trying to get the message across without having a three hour presentation.
As mentioned, this was intended to be a collaborative project by me and several middle school students who expressed an interest to show off their technology work. The simplest solution to providing such a collaborative platform was to use a Google Apps presentation that allowed for all participants to create and add their own content at any time, as well as see the content of others. As the 7th& 8th grade students had already become familiar with this tool through classroom projects, it was a natural choice. I simply started a presentation and then invited those students to collaborate. I showed them briefly what I would be adding from the earlier grade levels and asked them to add their own ideas and examples and links within the slide presentation.
As many of the students wanted to include examples of their multimedia projects, the main challenge presented by using Google presentation was the inability to insert or embed video using the URL address of specific videos we had uploaded. While it does have the ability to insert a video from YouTube, it would only allow you to search videos from a more general selection and I was unable to find and insert our specific videos even once uploaded to YouTube. I would anticipate that this feature will soon be remedied by Google.
For our presentation this was overcome by making the final presentation using the old stand-by: Power Point. This solution not only allowed for the insertion of student videos, but also guaranteed that there would be no problems with connecting to the internet for presenting to the board. That would be the last thing you want -- a technical glitch when you’re on stage to make a technology presentation. Fortunately, Google Apps made this very simple as you can easily download the collaborative presentation as a Power Point. All that was left to do was insert the videos directly into the slides and we were ready to go.
In the end, the presentation was a huge success. It definitely accomplished the superintendent’s goal of showcasing technology to the school board to gain future support. For me it was a chance to give students a voice in sharing what they have enjoyed in using technology, and to promote the successes and need for further development of an integrated technology model. Putting the effort into this project as a culminating activity for this class has also given me a presentation that can be used to showcase examples of student work to inspire future students in their efforts to use technology tools in their learning.

My new Theme Song

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We love our blogging buddies

Eureka Elementary First Graders talk about Blogging with there Blogging Buddies.