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Monthly Archive for July, 2007

Science Teacher CollaborationFor the past week, I’ve been at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative in Ojai, CA working from very early in the morning to very late at night for the entire week in a beautiful setting. It was amazing! Science teachers in Grades 4-8 reunited for a third year to develop content in science, thinking about ways to engage students using technology. The final product was a podcast episode for their unit of study. You can subscribe to the podcast at http://science-lausd.net/podcast/feed.xml . The podcasts are enhanced, so best viewed in iTunes, so the pictures can be viewed as slideshows through the artwork. The one thing I regret is that the Creative Commons, copyright, citations part of our workshop didn’t seem to get through to all of the participants. Something to work on next year. Still, the creativity in the content is wonderful. What a great start to the year. I can’t wait to see what these teachers will be doing with their students. If they allow their students to create this kind of content, WOW.

Our instructional team of ed tech coaches and facilitators worked together to show these teachers how to collaborate using Google Docs and Spreadsheets, social bookmarking through Del.icio.us, wikis, Google Earth, blogs, Flickr, how to use an RSS aggregator, and of course, how to create and publish a podcast. These teachers had an entire week to work with the tools that bring us all together. They were amazed and excited about the possibilities. Each edtech lead educator worked with a science lead educator to facilitate the learning in each classroom of 10 -15 teachers. What an amazing week!

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At our Teach the Teachers Collaborative in Ojai, CA, I found out that Ian Jukes won’t be coming live tonight for our keynote address. He was delayed somewhere, so he will be coming to us virtually through Eluminate. I wanted to do a chat cast, but was asked not to because they want to make sure they had enough bandwidth for the Eluminate connection. Best laid plans sometimes need to wait. Someday, I will do the back channel chat. I think that is a good way to process information.

The title of Ian Juke’s conversation is called: Windows on the Future - Living on the Future Edge: Live a Twitch Speed

He is talking about how we aren’t changing fast enough.

He says there are 3 Exponential Trends - That no one can choose to ignore - He mentions the first, but I don’t think he ever got to mention all three trends.

1. Photonics -The 10 mbps that you can get late at night on cable is equivalent to filling a cd rom for 60 seconds. Photonics is laser light that downloads to 10 trilliom mbps. In the book, Telecosm, futurist George Gilder states that since 1977, since the first fiber was installed, bandwidth has tripled every year. This will continue for another 20 years. Bandwidth will be a trillion times faster in years to come. We can’t get comfortable with the status quo. Even wireless is getting better.

Of course he mentions the World is Flat. He says students need to compete on a global level instead of across town like 50 years ago, with not only people but machines as well. He has had to revise his book twice since the first publication. He also entions A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, explaining that left brain thinking is being outsourced and automated. I now think that every speaker needs to mention The World is Flat and a Whole New Mind to make what they are talking about relevant. What is amazing that there were many people in the audience that hadn’t heard of the books.

Ian then asked several questions: What do we teach kids, and what will they be able to do with what they know for the future? What are we doing to prepare our students?

He then opened this question up to the audience: What steps can you take to ensure that all of your students develop the essential skills including creativity training to succeed in this radically emerging exponential environment.
The answers from the audience:

  • Global communication, opportunity to make a positive contribution to the society.
  • We need to engage students in authentic learning where learning has purpose and meaning.
  • We need to teach them how to learn.

Ian says there is a lack of value in education. People want to criticize kids for using technology and that they lack communication skills. but rather - the social skills that students have are different and are transparent for students. These tools complement the communication tools. Talks about the neurological differences between digital natives and digital immigrants. Trying to teach all of the standards is impossible. Students need to have a fundamentally different set of skills. Students need access to communications skills. Give them the habits of mind to learn for themselves. What gets measured gets done. What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. We have a culture of dependency that gets reinforced with NCLB.

It seems that Ian only talked for a short 3o minutes with lots of comments from the audience. I always enjoy his talk. It seemed so short tonight.
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Reflections about NECC 2007

I really need to finish this post! Life is hectic. I have a chance to reflect now that I am at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative , away from family and work, with a few hours to spare before the work here begins. It’s been a week since I arrived home from NECC, and even though I haven’t written anything about it, the ideas and sheer energy of the conference have not left me yet. Listening to and reading the published work of others in podcasts and blogs keeps the excitement fresh in my mind.

What an absolutely fantastic event!

I started out Saturday, with the Edubloggercon, an unconference for edubloggers to meet and connect. Admittedly, I’m not much of a blogger. Writing is very hard for me. It’s hard to find the time to sort out my thoughts and write them down coherently without constant interruption. But I do read lots of blogs. Just about every blogger I read was at that conference. It was amazing to feel the energy of so many sharp minds in one space. We talked about change and how to be change agents. Some shared their success stories while others stimulated group discussion. The conversations and connections I made that day will inspire me for a long time to come.

The rest of the conference was fine, but the best part was the Bloggers Cafe. ISTE supplied a nice area with comfortable seating, power adapters, and even a large screen monitor. People came and went between sessions. It was a place to reflect on the learning we were doing and share ideas with one another. It was like a comfortable place to come home to and network. Often at conferences, you end up going from session to session, with no pre-arranged meeting place to reflect with colleagues. This space offered that all day, every day. I know that some people preferred the energy and conversation at the cafe over the sessions, that by their very nature, tended to be more sit and get, with little time for reflection.

My favorite session of all was Dr. Tim Tyson’s closing keynote. For the past few years, I have subscribed to Mabry Middle School’s Podcast Central. Dr. Tyson was the principal of Mabry Middle School. Students in his school are producers of knowledge, not just consumers of content. They do meaningful, authentic work that makes a difference. His message was to let students be in charge of their learning. He showed evidence of what that looked like through amazing student produced videos. He brought two students with him who shared how having the ability to teach others helped their learning. I encourage you to listen to the podcast of his keynote recorded and published by Wesley Fryer, and also to visit the podcasts to see some of the amazing films his middle school students have produced. If you are pressed for time, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and download and watch the best picture podcast edition from each year: 2007, 2006, and 2005.

The other session that was incredible for me was Will Richardson’s From Hand It In to Publish It: Re-Envisioning Our Classrooms. I was able to enter a skypecast chat that Jeff Utecht initiated through Twitter. He invited those who wanted to join in on the chat as Will Richardson presented his session. Not only were some of us in the room chatting about the presentation, but others from outside the conference joined in. After the session, Jeff posted the chat on his blog. It was probably the most engaged I have ever been for a session. Not only was it an excellent presentation, but the back channel conversation about the learning made it all the more meaningful. Why aren’t we allowed to use chat with our students?

All in all, NECC was a very exciting learning experience. Not only did I make great friends, but I am energized to make sure authentic learning begins to happen more in my district.

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