Archive for June 2008

NECC 2008 – Day One – Session Four

June 30, 2008

Luckily my husband is attending this session as well and he has a power strip (and a really disgusting protein bar he shared with me), so I am plugged in and will hopefully get charged enough to continue the day.

Session Four: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Will Fundamentally Change Learning

  • History of the evolution from FrEdMail Network, Global Schoolhouse, BBS based email, Cyberfair, Web 2.o and Global School Network
  • Global School Network – Mission has always centered on collaboration
  • Learning with Lucie
  • Learning with Lucie Wiki
  • Wikinomics Google Presentation
  • Discussed how presenters collaborated via wiki and Google presentation/docs to create Wikinomics presentation
  • Wikinomics book – entire section on education
  • Wikinomics website – last chapter of book was collaboratively created after the publishing of the book
  • Wikinomics is based on  four premises – openness, peering, sharing and acting globally and three influential forces – technology, Net Gen and Global Economy
  • Always connected – Web, iPod, Tivo, PDA, GPS, cell phone, wireless
  • What are Net Gen Ethics – Young people going in to the work force value these ethics the most – play-fullness, openness, freedom, authenticity, innovation, balance and speed
  • Reality is that most students are social networking at home because the tools they want to use are blocked within their school networks
  • Students need to be taught critical thinking skills with the social networking tools; they also need to be creating projects for an authentic audience
  • Textbooks don’t work anymore – outdated by the time they are published, heavy, students lose them, etc.; Flexbooks attempting to make textbooks collaborative
  • Blended learning spaces – students learn part of the time in class and part of the time outside of class
  • Collaborative Project Registry on Global SchooNet
  • Wikinomics forum on Ning
  • Photoshow – Create photo stories and display on TV
  • Collaboration through social bookmarking via del.ic.ious, diigo

Again, not sure how beneficial these notes are going to be for anyone but me… session has gone pretty quickly. Hope someone finds them useful!


NECC 2008 – Day One – Session Three

June 30, 2008

Well, I made the trek to my third session (I still haven’t found anything for lunch)… and my battery is running seriously low on the laptop, so I may not make notes for the entire day.  Hopefully I will have time to recharge a bit at some point.

Session Three: Academy School@44 A Laptop Program to Re-engage Underachievers

  • School located in Buffalo, New York – they have a one-to-one program for underachieving students
  • Grades 7-12 over-aged underachievers
  • Focus on the needs of at-risk youth
  • Non-traditional program
  • How do you build connections between ideas?
  • Not just having technology available but looking for the ways that extend learning.
  • How do you blend standards with ways to engage students?  Content vs. projects
  • Professional development training and support is key to being effective (pedagogically heavy)
  • Main Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning
  • McMel Resources Wiki
  • Model on which the Academy school is based
  • Examples of student projects which are “real-world based” and provide authentic feedback
  • Working on creating an Academic Progression program based on credits earned and standards learned not courses taken
  • Role of laptops – “laptops are the core piece of the pedagogical system,” one computer per student (can’t take them home), ubiquitous access, in-house tech support
  • Online text used
  • Use Teenbiz for differentiation
  • Use ProjectFoundry to assist with project-based learning – looks like a pretty useful source
  • “How many of you when you catch students passing notes take away their paper and pen? How many of you when you catch students chatting take away their laptop?”
  • “When kids are participating in engaged learning, they view the laptop as a tool and take care of it.”

Not sure if these notes will make sense to anyone but me.  The speaker was rather quick with his presentation and much of the info was difficult to take “notes” over.  Interesting session to learn about how other schools are implementing one-to-one programs.

NECC 2008 – Day Two – Session Two

June 30, 2008

While I waited for session two to begin, I sat in the Blogger’s Cafe for a bit.  It was VERY crowded and very difficult to get a wireless signal above 11.0 mbps… GRR! Decided to go ahead to second session in hopes the wireless would be a little better.  I have been able to get back on Twitter and into the Internet… so far so good.

Session Two: Differentiating Reading and Writing Instruction Using Readily Available Technologies

I didn’t learn a whole lot of new information in this session; it was a good review. I took some notes and thought I would provide the info and links for you just in case you would like the info.  Hope the links and info are helpful to you.

NECC 2008 – Day One – Session One

June 30, 2008

Today is the first day of concurrent sessions at NECC 2008 in San Antonio.  I am going to try my best and share notes and ideas from the sessions I attend today… we will see how long I can keep it up.  You can follow me live on Twitter @astevens74.  My Twitter will probably be a little more active than the blog.

Session One: Creating a Personal Learning Network in Second Life

I chose to attend this session because I am a little intrigued with Second Life and the potential professional development and classroom uses.  I have played around with it some but was initially frustrated by my inability to navigate effectively, and I sort of gave up for the time being. I also used to work with one of the presenters, Elaine Plybon, and I thought I would see how she is doing.

  • Presenters began by introducing themselves and telling how they began in Second Life – Discovery Educator’s Network
  • Many of presentation panel had not met in “real life” until attending NECC conference
  • DEN’s Second Life Blog –
  • Recommend the Unofficial Beginner’s Guide to Second Life and Second Life for Dummies
  • Showed a humorous video about a beginning teacher in Second Life and their transformation in to an effective user
  • DEN Leaders will be in the Second Life Lounge (SL Lounge) tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00PM
  • Wiki at
  • There is a “sandbox” outside of DEN in SL to practice building; must purchase or lease land to build on
  • SL will run on Windows, Mac or Linux

My thoughts on the session… I can certainly see the usefulness of using SL as a personal learning network.  Perhaps I will have to try it again and begin by visiting DEN’s and ISTE’s SL networks.  I would love to hear from any of yho ou whave used SL effectively.  How did you get started?  What do you do in SL? How has it benefitted your personal and professional learning?

I Need Some Professional Development Help!

June 26, 2008

In a couple of weeks I (and a group of others) will have to begin planning the new teacher staff development and whole campus staff development for my campus for the 2008-2009 school year.

I am sure we have all been to those “professional development” sessions where we sat for eight hours and just basically tried not to fall asleep or strangle the boring presenter while they lectured to us about lecturing not being the most effective way to teach… BEATING.  I do not want to inflict that sort of “training” on my staff.

My goal is that the professional development we provide is actually USEFUL and that the majority of my staff members go away feeling like they have learned something or produced something they can use for the upcoming school year.  With that in mind, we usually offer choices and try to get as much teacher input into the planning process as we can.

The difficulties I see for planning professional development on my campus are

  • We have a few teachers with massive amounts of technology experience and It is difficult to come up with anything “new” to assist them with (technically)
  • We have a few teachers who still need basic technology training with the majority being somewhere in the middle
  • We have a few teachers who think they need advanced technology training when they really need basic 🙂
  • We have teachers who are OUTSTANDING in building relationships with the kids and teachers who are not
  • We have a few teachers who think they know everything about technology and/or their subject area who haven’t really updated their skills since 1985… and see no need to
  • We have elective teachers who feel left out because there are few if any sessions geared toward their subjects
  • We have teachers who have taught for 30 years and teachers who have yet to step foot in the classroom
  • Our teachers expect choice in staff development and expect some sort of relevancy from it (so, the standard is high)

I guess my point in listing all of this is that we have a varied staff (as I am sure your school has).  And, when planning for a group who have such disparate needs, it is difficult to give everyone what they need which has been our basis for offering choice and attempting to differentiate for the group (as we would do in a classroom).  Overall, I think it works but I am ready to try something new and different… I just don’t know what it is yet.

I would love some thoughts from you on how to best organize professional development opportunities for a group of 80 or so educators with various technological and teaching backgrounds.

Before the school year ended, I surveyed the staff on what they would like to see in their professional development options, and this is what they said.

Last year we decided to plan and present our professional development for new and returning teachers via Wikispaces, and this is what we come up with for the newbies and the whole campus.

So again, I would love your thoughts on how to organize and implement some professional development opportunities that is not going to waste my staff’s time.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

The Evolution of the Library

June 25, 2008

When I was young(er) I used to spend a large portion of my time at the library picking out books to read, taking part in the summer reading program and looking at the library’s pet hamster.  My mom or my grandmother would take me by every week or so, and I would stock up on books until my next visit.

I particularly loved following the exploits of Ramona Quimby, Ralph S. Mouse, Stuart Little and Bunnicula.

As I got older, my love of reading never waned, but I began to visit the library more as a means for research than for checking out books, and I dove into my brother’s paperback collection instead to read an eclectic assortment including The Chronicles of Narnia and horror books written by Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz. (And to this day, I still attest that The Shining is the scariest book ever written).

As I entered college I had less time for pleasure reading (being an English major) and began doing the majority of my research via Internet and on-line databases… because the Internet never closes and when you attend college and work full-time, it is difficult to make it to the library.

As an adult, I still read voraciously but I had shifted from visiting the library for books to visiting my local Half-Price Bookstore.  I would scan the shelves, buy the books I wanted, add the “good ones” to my library and then sell the rest back (which by the way is not lucrative).  But for some reason last week, I decided I wanted to visit the local branch of my library, so I talked my husband in to going with me and we decided to check it out.

It had been quite some time since I entered a public library, and I was a little astounded at what I found.  It was packed. There were children, teens and adults milling around looking at books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs and using the computers provided by the library.  There were even a few people using their own laptops and the free Wi-Fi provided.  I saw children playing educational games on the computers, a woman looking up directions on Google Maps and a man working on an essay.

The desktops were set up in two stations with six being dedicated just to the children’s section – sitting on low tables with children-sized chairs and approximately ten to fifteen desktops set up in another section for everyone to use.

I have since visited the library’s webpage and found their Acceptable Use Policy, learned I can access on-line databases with my library card number, located some book clubs and learned about the summer reading program. Who knew?

I have visited the library on my campus, and knew school libraries had evolved since I used to visit them, but I have remained oblivious to the change of the public library.  I was pleasantly surprised at my visit, and in fact, returned on Sunday to check out some more books to read.

In the past ten years or so it seems the library has become a much more exciting place with computers, Wi-Fi and a multitude of resources to entertain – books, magazines, movies on DVD and VHS, music CDs and audiobooks.  If like me, you have grown apart from your library, I suggest you give it another chance because while you were busy growing up… it was too.

An Infusion of New Thoughts

June 24, 2008

So today I decided to remove a couple of Edtech blogs from my Google Reader and add a couple of new blogs.  I have followed some of the same bloggers for quite awhile now, and thought it might be time to mix it up a bit and get some new perspectives.

So far I have added:

Katie in Monterrey – Katie is one of the Spanish teachers on my campus and this summer she and her husband (and two small children) are in Monterrey, Mexico, for about a month.  They are “chaperoning” a group of Katie’s AP Spanish students who have the opportunity to study at a university there.  So, if you would like to follow their journey as well, then take a look!

School-of-Thought – This blog is written by Fred Deutsh who happens to be a school board member in South Dakota.  Mr. Deutsh contacted me via e-mail awhile back to tell me about his blog, and I was quite impressed with the information he writes about (and the fact that a school board member is blogging).  I was sort of beginning my blogging funk when he contacted me, so I did not add him to my aggregator at the time, but I put his blog in there today!

Ed Tech Journeys – I have come across this blog before and am not sure why I did not save the feed, but I was SOLD when I read this post.

So far, those are the blogs I have added.  I would love some suggestions!  Anyone have any educational blogs they can’t live without?  Let me know.