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Monthly Archive for July, 2006

Several weeks ago at Thacher in Ojai, CA, LAUSD teachers spent the week collaborating on how best to engage students in authentic learning. One group of teachers were Physical Education teachers from elementary, middle and high schools, who learned together how to use technology tools like heart rate monitors and fitness grams, along with the newly adopted California standards for physical education, to help students learn better. Another group worked together to learn one semester of Cisco training so they can begin that program in the fall. Another group worked to develop online content for students for the Los Angeles Virtual Academy. Even though teachers worked in their own groups, they came together to share meals and also special presentations, which were a real treat this week.

One of the best keynote lineups I have ever heard happened here on Sunday night. We had 3 keynote speakers. The first speaker was Dianne Wilson-Graham, who is the consultant of physical education for the California Department of Education. Next, Marc Prensky came to us virtually from Florida, through the online collaborative tool called Elluminate. Then, Ian Jukes spoke to us. Afterwards, we had a question and answer session. Following is my summation of the event.

Dianne Wilson-Grahams message was that physical activity is important for all of us. At no other time has there been so many 10 year olds at risk of cardiovascular disease and other health risks.
Along with the new California Physical Education standards, there is a new budget of 40 million for hiring elementary PE teachers. There is another 500 million allocated for PE and the visual and performing arts. All of this can offer great potential in the upcoming years.
However, Dianne stresses that we need to use the tools wisely. She stressed that it important to be a facilitator of student learning, because if they don’t learn what it is you are teaching, your teaching is irrelevant.
She stated that confidence is important for student learning. Through physical education, students can gain confidence to excel in school.

Next in our speaker lineup was Marc Prensky. Since my summation is getting foggy in my head since it has been two weeks now since I heard his presentation, I was delighted to find another blogger, Steve Dembo, whom I regularly read, who just saw his presentation at the recent Building Learning Communities in Boston. A link to his thoughtful summation of the presentation is on his recent blog post. I recommend you read this excellent post to find out about what Marc Prensky’s message is. (I found this while cruising Hitchhiker, a brilliant new tool created by David Warlick, which tracks the blogs and photos of all the latest technology conferences.)

Our next speaker was Ian Jukes, who also talked about how student brains are wired differently than ours, and that we need to change how we teach to address these new changes. We are so accustomed to and comfortable with teaching the way we were taught, that making changes to that model will take some effort. We need to include more images, more multi-media, more conversation and interactivity to engage our students. Ian stayed until Tuesday morning, sharing his passion for educators and education with all he met. More reflections about Ian and a special podcast will be forthcoming.

After the three presentations, we had a question/answer session. I was amazed at how each of the three presenters kept the focus on student learning and complemented each other with their message. Educator participants were actively engaged in conversation and thinking about student learning.

All of our presenters were on the same page, putting the emphasis on the importance of engaging students in powerful, relevant learning opportunities. I commend Kip Leland, Chad Fenwick, and all the others who thoughtfully gathered the best keynote kickoff I have ever seen. Teachers all week were completely focused on student learning instead of teacher instruction as they worked in their groups. What a great week of learning and sharing!

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NECC Links

I didn’t get to blog the workshops. That is a skill I will need to work on. I admire those who did. How wonderful to visit the conference through the edublogs.
So far, I’ve read the posts of David Warlick , Kelly Dumont at The Educational Mac, (two great people I had the pleasure and honor to meet), and Vicki Davis at The Cool Cat Teacher blog, who wasn’t even there but did an excellent job of commenting on what she had read.
I am always in awe of the capacity of educators to share their knowledge. It’s what makes being in this field so rewarding. Now through the community of blogs and podcasts, you have a finger on the pulse of what is happening and what is relevant to teaching and learning in the 21st century. Thanks to all who share their ideas and thoughts so that we can all learn and do a better job with our students.
More to share later. Now, I’m getting ready to go to beautiful Ojai, CA for the next few weeks as LAUSD educators spend time learning together in the Teach the Teacher Collaborative at the breathtaking Thacher campus. This week, I will be doing several sessions on podcasting, and next week on the Read/Write Web. I’m looking forward to it.

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Blogging at NECC

Today is the day I go to NECC. I’ve been looking forward to going for such a long time, but my excitement has been even more intense these past few weeks because of the new connectivity I am experiencing through the edublogosphere. David Warlick shared how to blog and tag the conference. I will really try to do this, although I’m not yet ready to become an “official” blogger for NECC.

I’m looking forward to the edublogger meetup on Thursday. It will be wonderful to meet so many people I read and admire face to face. Wes Fryer, who can’t be there, is going to join us through Skype or videoconferencing. Cool!

I was sorting through all the NECC mail I received recently, trying to figure out which booths would be worth visiting. I decided to organize them numerically. Did you know there are over 3,000 booths? Could that be possible? Wow!

If you are unable to attend, check on the tags, NECC and NECC06 for up-to-date information about NECC.
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Last week, I took an Intro to Photoshop class offerered by LACOE in Downey, CA. The instructor was John Chambers. This was an excellent class to learn about beginning Photoshop. Not only is the instructor outstanding in a face to face environment, he also has all of his presentation online, along with podcasts and videocasts of his lessons (and other tips). His good sense of humor and expert knowledge of Photoshop made the class enjoyable.

He made this course very engaging, even for a techie like me. I encourage any educator in the Los Angeles County area to enroll in his classes offered at LACOE. I already enrolled in his Adobe Photoshop: Beyond the Basics class on July 13th-14th. He also will be teaching Adobe InDesign on July 17th, and Photoshop for the Web on July 20-21.

What makes his class outstanding is the fact that all his content is online. In our first session, we strayed a bit from the outline, but he easily reordered the outline online to match what he was teaching us face to face. I especially enjoyed his outstanding podcasts and videocasts that reinforced what I learned in class.

Even the geekiest of us take classes sometimes. I want to use Photoshop better. I struggle with professional apps like Photoshop and Final Cut, so taking a Photoshop class seemed like a good class to take. This class, although very introductory, was enhanced by his love of Web 2.0 technologies that he mentioned throughout the class, like Pandora and Second Life. I even was able to share Box.net with him. That was fun to find someone who knew about some of the new tools that are available for educators.

Thanks, LACOE, for offering this outstanding educator at such a reasonable price. I’m sure this class would have cost at least 8X the price if taken somewhere else.

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