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Category Archive for 'NECC 2007'

I’ve published the latest edition to my newsletter blog at http://ld6.blogspot.com It contains news, events, professional development opportunities, grant resources, and some recommended tools for educators. It’s most useful for teachers in LAUSD.

At the bottom of the post, I added some pictures and a short reflection from my summer experiences at NECC and at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative. I used FlickrSlider to embed the photo slideshow. This tool allows you to embed slideshows from your tagged photos in Flickr. It’s very easy to use, and could be a great tool for classroom teachers.

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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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Herman Wood, of the Cobb County School District, co-presented with his colleagues on Monday at NECC on how he helped facilitate a project in his district using a blogging service to have students create fictional journal entries for various historical figures. Students researched their designated historical figure, then created journal entries on a word processor, which were later cut and pasted into the blog.

The first example, about Harriet Tubman, produced in an elementary school classroom has posts arranged in reverse chronological order and doesn’t allow comments. Someone in the audience asked Mr. Wood if this truly was a blog, since comments weren’t allowed and students didn’t post their entries. The teacher actually copied and pasted the text from a document into the blog. The presenter explained that at the time this blog was created, blogs were blocked in his district. Now that the policy has changed, he intends to do more authentic blogging with elementary students.

He showed another example at http://www.tappmiddleschool.typepad.com/ww2/ of a middle school project he helped facilitate. Although comments are turned on, the blogs still looks like everyone copied and pasted their entries on the same day. I beleive this project is a creative way to engage students in doing old things in new ways, but is a blog truly the right tool for this kind of work? Somehow, it doesn’t just feel right calling this a blog. (I really have no room to talk, since I use a blog for a newsletter, which also isn’t what it is intended for.)

The power of blogging and authentic learning doesn’t seem to be coming through in this project. This project reminds me of the teachers who used to come into the computer lab to type their essays on the word processors and called that “integrating technology”. However, perhaps this is a way to introduce blogging tools to teachers and students to help them become familiar with how they work. From the discussion after the presentation, it seems that just might be the intent.

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