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Monthly Archive for November, 2007

My colleagues and I met yesterday to explore the Obstacles to Opportunities strand of the K-12 Online Conference 2007.

For homework, we were to have watched the Keynote presentation by Brian Crosby. Since only one had seen the presentation (done their homework), I decided to play it for about 30 minutes. I think that keynote is one of the best from the conference. Brian invites us to see what a classroom can look like when a teacher understands the importance of meeting the needs of every child in his classroom. I really appreciate his sense of humor and genuine heartfelt emotion as he explains how technology has made a difference in his classroom. I HAD to play the video! I was afraid they wouldn’t have a chance to watch it otherwise. I think it had the same impression on them as it does on me when I watch it - genuine belief that even here in NCLB land (the US), great things can happen in the classroom despite the mandates, pacing plans and constant assessments. Brian gives us inspiration!

After watching some of the keynote, we were ready to break in groups and watch some presentations then report back to the group. There was a unanimous decision for all 5 of us to pick one video and watch it together. They chose the one on professional development by Sylvia Martinez, but the sound was not too good, and it was hard to watch on a big screen. So we chose the presentation called “Crossing the Copyright Boundary in the Digital Age” by Karen Richardson. We watched the short introduction, took part of the Copyright quiz by Hal Davidson, and watched a Creative Commons video. Most knew about copyright in the digital age, but found some of the presentation resourceful. To demonstrate our learning from the New Tools strand, especially the presentation called Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools by Liza Kolb, we set up a low tech podcast using Gabcast and a telephone.

All we did was set up an account on Gabcast, set up a new channel, then called in using the toll free 1-800 number, and followed directions to post a new episode for each person who talked. I could see that my colleagues were excited about the possibilities of using this tool in the classroom. Podcasting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You also don’t you need expensive equipment to give students an opportunity to practice their oral and reading skills. It was great fun. It’s amazing how the newest tools become easier and easier to use. Here’s our podcast.

(FYI, I figured out how to embed flash players in Wordpress. I used a plugin called CoolPlayer. After installing in it my wordpress plugin directory, a flash button appeared in my editor. After clicking that, I copied the url of the flash file in the box, put in the size I wanted and viola! I’m learning little by little. )

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My colleagues and I are learning together from the K12 Online Conference 07. Each week, for 5 weeks, we are meeting together to discuss the keynotes from each strand and also to view presentations together ala lan party style that Jeff Utecht started last year at the 06 conference. Our first meeting was November 7th. Together, we watched the Pre-Conference Keynote, Inventing the New Boundaries, by David Warlick. The conversation that came from watching the keynote address was rich and deep, as we thought about the possibilities of inventing new boundaries in education. I thoroughly enjoyed the keynote, but enjoyed even more the conversation of my colleagues after watching the keynote together. I recorded the conversation as a podcast and also invited more conversation through a gabcast channel. If you would like to add to the conversation about the pre-conference keynote, please leave me a comment and I will give you the information to call and leave your comment on the gabcast channel.

Lately, many in the edublogging community are conducting “unconferences” in their conference presentations. An unconference is when participants are given a topic to consider and have a conversation about that topic to further their learning and deepen their understanding. The one I remember most is the Edubloggercon at NECC07, in which I participated. It was an amazing learning experience! Many of the wonderful episodes that Wesley Fryer is publishing on his Speed of Creativity podcast, and David Warlick on his Connect Learning podcast model the “unconference” type of presentation. I think this type of presentation is very effective in deepening the understanding of what we are learning. I’m glad to have experienced that process first hand with our first lan party, watching the Pre-Conference Keynote from David Warlick.

Direct link to podcast episode.
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Like a Key

This is a post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for a few months. I decided to post it even though it’s older, because it documents my thinking and reflection on sharing the learning about Web 2.0 tools. The online Read/Write Web course I mentioned has already finished, and I am hoping that the teachers that took that class are beginning to enjoy the amazing opportunities for learning afforded them by the Web 2.0 tools they are using.

Here’s my post from several months ago…

I’ve been thinking about the online Read/Write Web course I’m about to teach on Blackboard. It’s a beginning course to allow educators to explore the new possibilities of Web 2.0. In reality, in this course, we just brush the surface of what is possible. I know from the previous time I taught this class (my first experience with being an online facilitator for my district), that the teachers came away overwhelmed and in awe of all they could do.

Key to Open Door of LearningHowever, as I’m going to tell my new group of participants tomorrow in our initial face to face meeting, this course is like a key to a door that you will open. You can peek in, but to really go through the door, you need to do some learning on your own. I started thinking more about this after reading Will Richardson’s blog post, Diving in Part 2. Will talks about encouraging teachers to use the new Web 2.0 tools to fuel the fire for their own personal learning, whether that be about mountain hiking or education and pedagogy. Teachers often need to see the connection that connected learning has for their own personal life so that they can see how these tools can be useful for their students.

I’m eager to begin the journey through the door with the participants in my class.

Photo credit: Unlock by CoolFreaK on Flickr Creative Commons Search

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I am co-facilitating a salary point class on the K-12 Online Conference. (The other facilitator is Jose Rodriguez, in District 5. I really am enjoying working together with him on this as we expand the boundaries of professional development for our teachers.) This week, our focus was the Classroom 2.0 strand. Participants were to view one of the Classroom 2.0 sessions, then reflect on their learning. I wanted to model using some of the new collaborative tools that are being used in the K-12 Online Conference. I made a Voice Thread for reflecting on the presentations. However, only two people showed up for this week’s face to face session. The others missed the meeting. (Next week, I’m sending out reminders!)

We watched Jeff Utecht’s Sustained Blogging in the Classroom. There was good content there for keeping blogs going in the classroom. Often, we start blogs, but then drop them after a short time because the pedagogy in our classrooms doesn’t support using them. Jeff offers some tips for keeping them going.

I’ll add my reflections to the voice thread, and all are invited to also add their reflections. If you already have a VoiceThread account, just add your comments below. If not, the presentation below will ask you to register for a voice thread account. After registering, you can add your reflections to the voice thread. It’s a fun way to learn!

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