Engagement from Scratch

I was in Hawaii last week for the Schools of the Future 2012 conference. I really enjoyed listening to keynotes John Hunter and Mark Milliron. The conference gave me an opportunity to reflect on my school and my classroom and think of ways to make student learning better.

I’ve been using Scratch for several years. I think that it is a great tool for getting students to engage in creative and computational thinking. When I use Scratch with students, I see them discover the excitement of “controlling” the computer. The great thing about Scratch is that it supports bottom up design and allows students to tinker and grow. You can find my presentation below.

New NETS Standards

Did you know that ISTE has  NETS standards for technology leaders and technology facilitators? In trying to find some standards to inform my own professional development (beyond NETS-T), I came across a number of profiles by ISTE. I’ve looked through them and reformatted them for my job. This is a work in progress as there is still some repetition, and it may also be incomplete. However, I’d love some feedback. (If you are using NETS-T and want an online self-assessment, then go to http://etoolkit.org/etoolkit/reflection/index/NETS-T/21 .)

NETS Standards links

Technology Integration Matrix 2.0

Technology Integration Matrix 2.0

Technology Integration Matrix 2.0

I started using the Florida Center for Instructional Technology’s Integration Matrix a few years back. The levels of entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, transformation coincide with levels reported by researchers although the names may differ (citation to be added) and have not been changed. The original matrix at http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/ has been revised and the new model is available at http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/tim/matrix.

The characteristics of the learning environment (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, goal-directed) are consistent between the two matrices. The indicators have been revised to be clearer with examples for teachers to use as reference. The presentation of the information has been revamped to be more user friendly, for example, you could print out a grid with all the active indicators. Specific examples are given for math, science, language arts, and social studies amongst the 25 cells, and identify objectives, procedures, NETS alignment, and materials for a particular grade level. The new grade level and digital tools indices categorize the content for easy access and use. Overall, I think that this site is much more user friendly and more dynamic that the previous site and I look forward to sharing it with my colleagues.

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Redefining Schools

From http://redefineschool.wordpress.com

This has been a busy month culminating in an exam and final paper for my graduate course in instructional design. Consequently, I haven’t been participating in the Global Education Conference. However, there was one session that I made time to attend: Students redefine school by Monika Hardy (@monk51295).

Monika speaks with passion and conviction about the learning and education. Her commitment to learning and the innovation lab where students notice – dream – connect – do is inspiring. As educators, we must think about our students as individuals with passions and interests; we have a responsibility in schools to help students connect with their passion for further action.

Learn more. Visit the links below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bV8GcS8KWY (be inspired)
http://www.slideshare.net/monk51295/innovationlab (watch Monika’s presentation from the Global Education Conference)
http://tsdinnovationlab.tumblr.com/ (see examples of young people in action)
https://redefineschool.wordpress.com/ (visit the project blog which has lots of great information)

Create the Future – Practical Ideas

by cindy47452, Available: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindy47452/1021782142/

As part of the Create the Future workshop this part weekend with Julie Lindsay and Kim Cofino, participants worked in groups to develop a product of interest to them. This exercise involved the following steps:

  • think about what you want to work on during the workshop (individual)
  • find other people who share your interest (during lunch – group)
  • meet with group, solidify the idea and create a unit plan using the templates provided (group)
  • one person from each team rotates from team to team making an elevator pith of the proposal (one individual/group as presenter; other group members as audience)
  • meet with group to discuss feedback from pitches and work on final 5 minute presentation and product presentation (group)
  • presentation (as many members of the group as decided by the group)

Here are the proposals

Voice thread for children to tell their story for elementary and lower elementary, ESL

Purpose: Build home/school connections as students explore their self identity.

  • Unit of Inquiry: Who we are
  • Create a class book with each child having a chapter using images that they find. Students will record how the images represent them
  • Share with the school community and their family
  • Invite family to make commentary

Book Trailers

Purpose: Encourage reading and recommend appropriate books for children by grade level.

  • encourage reading
  • suggest good books
  • share with class, school and the world
  • collaborate with other classes

ESL education

Purpose: Provide students with translations for the Dolce sight words in their mother tongue to build vocabulary.

  • Build a website with multimedia and activities for learning English based on Dolce sight words list
  • Students and parents will create the content
  • Collaborative
  • Have all languages from the school represented
  • Project already started in English/Korean/Japanese at a school in Tokyo

Borderless Learning

Purpose: Provide a space where teachers and students can go for help with explaining/understanding classroom topics.

  • Known international school teachers join the environment and have their own blogs within it
  • Teachers and experts answer questions to students in real time and through posts on the website
  • Teachers make and share lessons and ideas with each other

Digital Portfolios

Purpose: Facilitate student learning and record both process and product in a way that is easily shared and maintained from year to year.

  • each student has a digital portfolio – format may be different for elementary, middle school and high school.
  • connect within classroom, with parents, with the world
  • start small and add classes each year
  • use for student led conferences but also for yearlong showcase to parents
  • student ownership – can be done within classes for younger students but they will need support
  • some schools use blogs; others use wikis (Mahara is an open source tool that some schools use as well.)

Rethinking Pen Pals

Purpose: To have students collaborate with each other and learn from each other.

  • use Voicethread
  • allow students to learn from each other, to collaborate, to comment, to give feedback
  • students learn digital citizenship as part of the process
  • Skills highlight: communication, research, inquiry
  • Have a feedback process so that students can improve work and re-upload

Middle School ESL

Purpose: To build school community and have collaboration between diverse populations, using the strength of each to create authentic products.

  • middle school students work with early elementary students to write books for young children
  • foster relationships by pairing younger kids with older kids
  • students communicate initially face to face and then move conversation to the wiki
  • younger children would need teacher support
  • younger children illustrate and older children write
  • choose hard copy or online copy for products
  • have book opening/signing in the library with community invited
  • have a one month intensive kickoff and then follow up throughout the school year

Parent Communication

Purpose: To flatten the classroom walls between parents, students, teachers and extended family.

  • provide tech training/support so that parents can use the tools
  • invite family participation in class activities using online tools
  • needs assessment is important
  • evaluation is important to determine effectiveness of any strategy implemented
  • Examples of parent involvement
    • comment on student work
    • respond to survey or other questionnaire electronically
    • pose questions related to various subject areas for real life learning
    • provide expertise to students through blogs, wikis, forums
    • Skype with family members of students e.g. in teaching weather and earth’s rotation
  • Models for parent tech support
    • have students show parents how to do something at home (as part of class/school expectation)
    • have parents come in to the school and have an adult lead the training
    • have parents come in to the school for training led by their child(ren)
    • have online resources available that parents can access as needed

For more information, visit the Create The Future workshop wiki.

Learning 2010 Reflections

As the landscape flew by and the Maglev train sped up to over 420 km/hr, Paul and I discussed everything from our families and backgrounds to our interests and career goals. I’d met Paul less than an hour earlier in my hotel lobby in Shanghai, shared a taxi with him to catch the Maglev train and spent the whole time sharing information with him. Our connection was that we’d both attended Learning 2010. To me, this is the power of a conference like Learning 2010 to build networks.

Learning 2010 was a two day conference at Concordia International Secondary School in Shanghai, China that brought together students from international schools in Shanghai, and educators from around the world but primarily from South East Asia, China, Japan and Korea. Learning 2010 used a hybrid conference model including dedicated time to work in cohorts on a chosen topic and unconference time. The conference was designed to include a student as an equal participant in each cohort session. During the 6 hours spent in cohorts, each team had to create a product related to their topic. My cohort was online learning and we divided into subgroups based on interest. My group worked on a framework for schools interested in hybrid education (available here). All of the products are available on the moodle site but unfortunately, we ran out of time to share with each other during the cohort sessions. I think that time to share would have been valuable because we would have been able to tie things together and get the big picture. Of course, I can do that by looking through the products individually but I think that there is added value from being able to discuss ideas with others in the group and get a chance to clarify their thinking/reasoning. It’s much more cumbersome to do that online.

For the unconference sessions, the content was really up to the participants. Sessions were one hour long and the topics were suggested by the participants and decided through crowdsourcing; each participant voted for the sessions that he/she was interested in and sessions with the most participants ran while the others were discarded. The quality of the unconference sessions depended on the participants; there was a facilitator but each participant could contribute to the discussion and share ideas. An unconference really is a shared learning experience. Unconference sessions are optional; I actually skipped two of them during Learning 2010. I skipped one to continue working on my group project for my cohort; I was doing research on hybrid/online learning and was immersed in the experience; I did not want to leave it for something else. I skipped the second session for a chance to process my experiences from the conference and speak with some individuals who I felt that I could learn from in a one-on-one discussion.

A conference like Learning 2010 gives you all the pieces that you need and then asks you to create what you want. I’m sure that no one else at the conference had an experience just like mine; the experience is as individualized as you want to make it. You get what you put into it; cliched but true. You need to know what you want to know so that you can suggest it for unconference sessions, and even for areas of exploration in cohort sessions. If you’re unsure of what you want to learn, you can leave the decisions up to the other participants and simply attend sessions (suggested by others) that interest you. If you learn nothing in your time there, it’s your fault because you’re essentially one of the organizers.

One of my favorite opportunities during the conference was talking to students. A couple of seniors joined me for lunch one day, one from eastern Europe and one Chinese-Canadian. One of them was surprised to learn that I’d studied computer science at university and had taught computer science. He’d never met a female programmer. I explained that I don’t consider myself a programmer but have female programmer friends who work in industry. That was an interesting discussion. On the last morning, I struck up a conversation with another senior who I found out is Spanish. I enjoyed speaking with her about her views of the world and education, her experiences as an international student and her goals for the future. I was disappointed that I couldn’t join her and her facilitators for dinner that night (I got caught up on the Bund) but I did exchange e-mail addresses with her and look forward to finding out where she ends up next year.

Learning 2010 was time well spent. My next step from that is to explore the viability of having an online computer course that students can work through at their own pace with support from me as part of their middle school curriculum.

Related Posts

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Reach by Jeff Utecht – A Review


Reach is especially useful for people new to building a virtual learning network. Jeff Utecht, the author, defines terms and introduces the reader to a variety of tools and experiences in social networking. He does a good job of comparing the recommended tools and showing the connections between them. Jeff recommends particular tools for developing your professional/personal learning network and includes many web links that highlight his use of those tools.  There is no doubt that Jeff is authoritative in this area from his experience in developing his own network, and from his experiences teaching people of the value of professional/personal learning networks and guiding them in creating their own. Get it from lulu.

My Notes and Highlights

  • A person joins a community but creates a network. Networking involves choosing the people that you want to interact with, a personal decision.
  • RSS enables the creation of a PLN outside of the framework of community. This tool lets you aggregate content from a variety of web resources.
  • RSS enables you to set up a system whereby content is delivered to you from websites that you choose to include in your network.
  • “The more you participate, the more you get out of your network.”
  • “Sharing and being active within the community is the first step.”
  • You can start by being a lurker, just watching and learning but this does not build any connection or relationships between you and people in your professional/personal learning network.
  • “Activity= Visibility = Connection opportunity” This is when the true learning occurs.
  • “In order to be a node within a community you must be an active contributor.”
  • “The trick is using your personal learning network in those 5 or 10 minute blocks of time you get in your working day.”
  • Your network gives you the ability to participate in virtual staff rooms.
  • “In order to grow your network you need to be recognized.”
  • “It is like you are applying for a job, but rather in this case you are applying to people’s interest.”
  • “People need to understand who you are, what you do, and what you are about before they will create a connection with you, before they will count you as a node in their own learning network.”
  • “What makes it a network is when you start using the collective intelligence of others to find information, resources, and collaborate on projects.”
  • I use Edublogs with grade 9 students. After introducing it, one student came to see me next class to tell me that he had opened a WordPress account to share his love of creating plastic figurines. He’d gone home and researched blogging platforms and was impressed by the response to WordPress.
  • “Building up a readership when blogging means reading other blogs and leaving comments on blog posts that speak to you.”
  • “There’s no real science to blogging other than to reflect on what you’re learning, be true to thy self, and blog as often as possible.”
  • It is “difficult it is to keep focused on a single abstract topic for stretches of time over several days” when formulating a complex blog post.
  • The amount of time that we have is finite. “We make a choice on how we are going to spend that time.”
  • I practice spending at least 30 minutes during the work day learning from my network. I do not blog in that time as it often takes me longer than that to write a post. (This one’s taken me an hour.) Even with this scheduled time, I feel like there is a backlog and I can’t catch up. Participating in a PLN especially when connections are young takes a lot of time and commitment.
  • “Where a blog is used to build a community around a person’s thoughts and ideas, wikis are used to build communities around content.”
  • “Twitter is more than just updates of what people are doing at any given moment. It is links, information, news, and answers to questions, all in semi-real time.”
  • Jeff advocates using fan pages on Facebook to connect with students instead of “friending” them.
  • “The ability to connect with other professionals around the world, to connect classrooms across oceans, and to be able to video conference for free is simply amazing.”
  • “Skype’s ability to show you what other users are on at that given time allows you to chat, call, or video with people when you need them, or when they need you.”
  • I recently used the screen share feature of Skype from Japan to help a friend in Mauritania edit a web site in yahoo small business web hosting, an environment that I am not familiar with. I don’t usually think of Skype as being part of my learning network but is most definitely is.
  • “Spend some time and find a way to connect your networks together to create one large network that talks to each other the way you want it to on the devices you use the most.”
  • Jeff shares his stages of PLN adoption. I’m not sure where I fit. Maybe I’m close to balanced because it’s my second day in Shanghai and I’m not twitching from my inability to get on Twitter and Facebook. However, I don’t feel like I can keep up with the barrage of new content but I feel that this is okay; I don’t need to know everything because I have great people in my network who I can call on when I need something.
  • “Just remember it’s your network not theirs.”
  • “Look for communities and networks not only online but in the real world as well, and think about the relationships between them.”

Implications/Next steps

  • Use the example of from location 218 to show how to use google reader to collect resources for teaching.
  • Use example of @nzchrissy using Twitter to teach geography and weather to her grade 3 students with teachers.
  • Set up spaces on my Macbook to facilitate more efficient use of my time
  • Customize my Twitter background (tried to once before but didn’t finish) and check that my bio is reflective of my purpose/goal for using Twitter.
  • Check bookmarks in the books for possible further learning.

New Questions/Explorations

  • Explore the idea of personal network of people versus personal network of information. How are they related? There is clearly some overlap.
  • Explore the relationship between PLN and personal branding.
  • Building a personal/professional learning network has a lot in common with personal branding. A key element of both is the importance of representing and sharing your true self to build meaningful connections
  • When relying of social networks for a learning experience in the classroom, how do you know people will respond especially at such a critical point. Is just having followers that you interact with sometimes enough?
  • Some educators are moving from Ning because of their adoption of the freemium model. What are the replacements/additions?
    Are the benefits of Facebook groups enough to open Facebook at my school or can we have the same with existing school structures like wikis and class pages?
  • What are some of the dangers with the cloud computing model? How do associated costs compare with your own storage? What are the benefits/added value?

My final thoughts

Virtual networks are powerful tools for continuous personal development. They can provide a wider range of experiences than those in our local communities. However, the face-to-face, human connections in our local communities provide powerful opportunities to network as well. Based on your character, you may prefer one type of network to another. However, each of them has value. It’s a good idea to take stock of your networks and communities and ensure that you are balanced. So plug into your online networks but don’t forget to build on local ones as well

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Critical Thinking

Presenter: Betsy Aoki, David McGavock, Howard Reingold

  • Bing background is an image map with links to a variety of links (default focus is water)
  • instant answers from Bing share the source on the bottom
  • Bing results let you preview items before clicking on the link for further exploration
  • bing.com/social allows you to get results from the social web
  • bing.com/maps/apps has a variety of apps such as hotel finder, photosynth and today’s front page news
  • students must figure out the source of the material that they are reading to determine authority etc.
  • wikipedia is the best place to start but worst place to stop when doing research
  • wikipedia reveals the process used for creating the page
  • have students justify reason for using a source so that they explicitly practice critical thinking in selecting sources

Continue the discussion


Gaming Across the Curriculum

Gaming Across the Curriculum BYOL session – Finding and Evaluating Educational Games

Marjee Chmiel, National Geographic Society, @mchmiel, http://marjee.org

Trevor Owens, Center for History and New Media @tjowens, http://trevorowens.org

Game directories




http://supersmartgames.com (modified September 15, 2011)


Game recommendations

Coaster Creator – http://www.jason.org/digital_library/4851.aspx

Gravitee 2 – http://www.kongregate.com/games/FunkyPear/gravitee-2

Do I Have a Right – http://www.icivics.org/games/do-i-have-right

The Jamestown Online Adventure Game – http://www.historyglobe.com/jamestown

How to use games

  • share them in a diigo group, on a website or newsletter
  • “free time” activities
  • classroom activity
  • “homework”
  • your ideas (from comments)

Physics games from my diigo