December 17, 2009

"Will it be on the web page?"

As we finish the last week before vacation many classes are having performances of learning. Now that we have most every class posting to a blog or web page we are starting to hear, "Will it be on the web page?". To me this is exciting, and an indicator of how much our families expect to be able to view student work outside of school. This week teachers recorded progress toward a presentation using stills and combining them into a slideshow, used a Flipcam to record their Poetry Troupe
and posted a series of plays about learning Geology on Mrs Gautreau's Grade 3 Movie Links.

December 4, 2009

Rethinking the "Country" unit

Earlier I blogged about the excitement in the room when I introduced Google Earth to a class of 3rd graders. The next step is to find ways to connect our students to real images, stories and experiences of students their age in other countries. As they learn about different languages, currencies, time zones and land forms, we want our kids to get a feel for another culture. Last night over 100 international educators viewed Kim Cofino's K12online presentation posted below in the "Fireside Chat" format and she has created a fabulous wiki of resources I will be exploring with the third grade team of teachers. I have created a group on the K12online ning and would love to have others join it so we can share ideas about bringing country study into new realms of global collaboration.

November 19, 2009

Exploring Google Earth & Google Maps

This week we started geography and world cultures awareness with 3rd graders by introducing Google Earth and Google Maps. Click to start the SchoolTube video as they share their excitement about these learning tools.

November 12, 2009

Writing and Blogging in Grade 3

For the past two years Richard Sellinger has incorporated working in a blog with his classroom writing program. This year his "Lobster Blogsters" have started off the year collaborating with classes in other parts of the country on an Observation Window project that ties in with themes that he and Nancy March have been doing to incorporate scientific observation into student writing. Their first observations are recorded in the Voicethread embedded below:

The third grade classes all hope to connect with students in other countries as part of their unit on countries of the world this year. To begin to practice that communication Richard's students are creating their first articles and Kim Spencer's students learned how to comment on them this week. There has been great enthusiasm by students in Richard's class to having comments from other students to their articles. We all look forward to building this communication tool with more blogs and more access.

October 31, 2009

Diigo 4.0 new features

diigo education pioneerToday I listened to and watched a Classroom 2.0 recorded elluminate session featuring Maggie Tsai, a developer for Diigo, and teachers. Diigo (an acronym for "Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff"). Started as a social bookmarking system using tags for organization, Diigo added groups so that as you bookmark you can save to a group or classroom. Diigo also has a highlighting feature so that you can highlight and leave sticky notes on readings or assignments. Recently I used the Diigo lists feature during a presentation as you can create lists of bookmarked pages that then show as a web slideshow. There are links from the show here including the Diigo blog.

October 23, 2009

Life Cycles

Students in 2nd grade have been learning about life cycles: insects, apples, sunflowers, humans, and others. After reading and learning about various life cycles in the classroom they used the Clicker CD titled "Life Cycles" and then Clicker Paint to create a life cycle drawing. Their drawing skills were impressive and their work was outstanding.

October 18, 2009

Fall 09 Update of "Did You Know?"

How are we coping with information at this pace?

October 16, 2009

ACTEM Maine Education09

This is the presentation that Bob Sprankle and I did at the ACTEM Maine Education Conference today. Thanks to Bob for collaborating with me and sharing so many of the great ideas he uses at Wells Elementary School.

October 5, 2009

Login, Play & Learn

Fourth graders have been creating Cyberchase accounts at so that they can keep track of their scores and progress with selected Cyberchase math & science games. Students challenge themselves to improve their skills as the play more games. In addition to the challenging games, the process of creating a user name and password is part of our conversation about Internet Safety. Students practice creating a unique user name and private password with a password reminder question that can help them retrieve a forgotten password.

September 30, 2009

Bugs, bugs, bugs

Third graders learn about bugs, or more accurately, they become entomologists learning about insects. Outdoor explorations in the garden, photo opportunities and research sources give students an in depth understanding of this group of animals and the life cycles they exemplify. One amazing opportunity offered by the University of Illinois is an interactive session with scientists who have loaded student samples onto an electron microscope for viewing by a class. I was asked to "drive" the microscope which involves selecting between the ladybug, pill bug, fly and ant sent by the class and then zooming in to see a compound eye, the hair-like "setae", the grasping sections of the mouth, etc.

Student questions and sample images from one class are available at

September 14, 2009

2nd Grade, Lesson 1

In our school setting 2nd grade is the first time students have access to computers. To start they year, they explored the drawing tools of Clicker Paint. The buzz of discovery in the classroom is the primary sound as 7 and 8 year olds manipulate the trackpads to create the colors, images and combinations that show their understanding of the possibilities for creating with this software. The classroom teachers and I use this program in a progression from Exploration to Illustrating a learning (Fall, Life Cycles, etc.) to Illustrating and adding text to describe learning. Every child experiences success, accomplishes a new skill and feels mastery of the technology involved.

July 26, 2009

Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works

Each summer I teach a course to a group of K-12 teachers through USM's Professional Development Center. This summer the course included 2nd and 3rd grade classroom teachers and a wide range of other middle and high school educators. Using a text based on Marzano's research-based strategies as considered through a lens of technology in the classroom. The week was an active series of sessions building wikis, moodle site, blogs and incorporating multimedia into instruction. The hope of a course like this is that teachers will expand the way they instruct as well as the ways they envision student demonstrations of learning. The link to the course wiki is

July 13, 2009

NECC09 in review

It's taken me a few weeks to get this into the computer and in the meantime I have read many more thoughtful and reflective responses to NECC09. Since I use this blog as part of my professional portfolio I am going to attempt to record the bits and pieces of my conference days. I also use this as an archive to support the memory glitches that will inevitably occur over time. Please join me in the conversation by leaving a comment.

This was the inaugural year of the ACTEM wireless coach express from Portsmouth, NH to Washington, DC. We missed the daylong edubloggercon, but after our arrival on Saturday evening we found our way to the pub hosting the event and met many folks who I have only known as their twitter IDs and photos. It was great to connect with bloggers & ning friends; the feel was more that of a reunion than a first meeting! Looking for dinner I settled in with @cheryloakes50, @sharonbetts and @alicebarr for salads and burgers. Looking for dinner mates, @plnaugle joined us and shared tales of the aftermath of Katrina in Jefferson Parish, LA and her growth as a technology using educator from NECC04 to the present.

Sunday we sought out the Bloggers' Cafe and NECCunplugged as they were our bases for connecting with others during the conference. We began the scheduled NECC09 events with the Keynote by Malcolm Gladwell. While Gladwell didn't add much to what I had already read in the New Yorker and his books, he reminded us that that students need to be finding out about themselves as learners and that it takes significant effort to be successful in any endeavor, not just innate ability. Liz Davis started a great conversation on Twitter about Gladwell's ideas regarding compensatory education and makes some useful points in her blog entry.

My Monday morning started with the Exhibit area with visits to Edutopia, pbs, @DebBarrows with the new software titles by Peter Reynolds at Fablevision, and an inspiring presentation on Google Sites for Teachers by Cheryl Davis. I wandered the expanse of the hall , but I wasn't drawn to the many companies selling response "clickers" and learning systems that come with software so that teachers don't have to create curricula. I did look at a Mobi tablet that functions as a mobile whiteboard that I thought had some potential. I'm going to have one on loan for late August into September. I also looked at document cameras as another item with the potential to enliven classroom activities with shared large objects, texts, student work, etc. My enthusiasm when I got home has already led to one purchase by a 4th grade teacher who uses scientific observation to build literacy.

Moving on from the exhibits I went to a BYOL session on using Scratch with students. The presenter brought student helpers which I loved seeing and his ideas and materials are online.
I joined Alice Barr in a session on School 2.0 Exploration for strategies for changing our schools. The original School 2.0 site now has many expanded resources that will be helpful in conversations with faculty and the broader school community. We received copies of the iste book "web 2.0: new tools, new schools."

In the afternoon I went to a session on Global Connections in the Primary Classroom with @mariaknee (Deerfield, NH), @kathycassidy (Saskatchewan, Canada) & Amanda Marrinan (Australia) faciliated by Cheryl Oakes. The rich learning environments shown on their three class blogs make a strong case for multimedia literacies and collaboration in the primary classroom. I followed that session with one on Best Practices for 24/7 Learning as I am particularly interested in ways we can involve our students with technology that will continue when they are outside of school hours. This session was a panel of presentations on various after school or progressive school projects including the Global Challenge Award which I would like to see us participate in next year. I then headed to a BYOL session on building a Digital Story, but it wasn't anything new so I headed to the bloggers' cafe and met more folks who I have known online through twitter and nings.

Tuesday morning we headed to a sponsored breakfast with Dr. Scott McLeod on Technology Leadership. Scott challenged us with the question, "Why aren't we having a bigger impact?" He looked at some of the research on reframing organizations and invited us to talk at our tables about how we could refocus our jobs to provide more leadership. The keynote debate on Bricks & Mortar vs. Virtual Schools inevitably came down to the idea that there are elements of both that need to be part of our schools. Alice and I went on to a session entitled Building 21st Century Skills into Core Subjects which was a presentation of the subject area maps that have been developed by NCTE, NSTA and NCSS to assist teachers with connecting content to 21st Century learning. These maps and the upcoming one from NCTM will be tools to share with faculty this fall. I then went to a session on Gaming and Social Causes, but it was too little information and too didactic an approach for me. I enjoyed a session on Tux Paint for creativity and communication which is available on the presenter's wiki.

Wednesday turned out to be the most dynamic learning day for me overall. I went to Vicki Davis's session on Diigo lists with Maggie Tsai on site to add in the newest and latest tips on using Diigo. I will now need a whole day to organize my bookmarks to use the slideshow feature of lists! Alice, Cheryl and I went to Doug Johnson's session Beating the No U-Turn Syndrome: New Approaches to Copyright Compliance. He gave us a lot to think about as we try to navigate the copyright issues in our schools. Our last session was Do So Much with an iPod Touch with Tony Vincent. He made a strong case for the many learning options for the classroom iPod/iTouch and we all saw a valuable tool of the very near future.

The bus ride home was great if you can sleep on a bus (some of us can't), but I'm sure I'll forget all the trials thereof long before it's time to go to Philadelphia for the renamed "iste2011".

There were many, many sessions, posters and talks that I didn't make it to over the 3+ days. I've been visiting the handouts site and the istevision recordings to try to catch some that I missed. Two in particular that I want to check out are pbs Fetch for elementary science and Bernie Dodge's new Questgarden which will be out on September 1st and will be free for the first year. The new developments are in response to the frustrations many of us had with Webquests over the past five or six years. He has also started new explorations into geocaching

July 7, 2009

Following NECC09

I've been back from NECC09 for a few days and I have had many thoughts for a blog entry and what I want to do for followup. My biggest hope after all the energy and interchange of ideas during the conference is that I will spend more of my days on initiating change and less on responding to every question, and even worse, getting distracted by equipment issues. We will have a school of all mobile equipment this year as we replace all the iMacs with MacBooks and iBooks.

What do I want that equipment enhancement to mean? Last year I determined that at the elementary level one focus that it is important is "Communication and Collaboration". This year I want to build a practice of classroom blogging that moves from just sharing student work to collaborating with others in meaningful ways. I believe that if we do that with 8, 9 & 10 year olds we are giving them a foundation for learning through social networking that will be indispensable to their futures. AND, for now, they are actively learning with others which changes the whole enterprise of schooling from an individual endeavor to a shared responsibility for quality.

June 25, 2009

Yarmouth Learning & Technology Course 09

Twenty Yarmouth educators joined us at for three days of Google accounts, Diigo bookmarks, Voicethread interactions and shared Google docs as ways to increase communication and collaboration. Thanks to the Yarmouth students who helped individual teachers with questions and served as sounding boards for ideas about expanding our uses of Web 2.0 in the classroom.

June 22, 2009

Professional Development Center Courses at USM using Technology

If you are interested in taking graduate education courses in effective uses of technology check out Alice Barr's blog entry to see the list of courses and links to more information at

May 5, 2009

Sharing Student Learning Online

One of the district goals this year is: Teachers will increase student engagement and improve student achievement by focusing on instructional practices. This blog entry is a review of the work we have done at YES this year to post more student work online by using teacher web pages and blogs.

In a conversation with my building principal before the school year started we talked about efforts I might make to increase the use of teacher web pages to display student work and communicate with parents. The goal was to engage students in presenting learning to an audience of parents and family members. Specifically, I wanted to increase the number of teachers using class web pages and the involvement of students in creating content to display online. This year there has been an increase from 50% of classrooms displaying student work online to 80%. In addition to classroom teachers the Art and Music teachers have expanded the student presence on their web pages this year.

The initial impetus for this increase came from a faculty meeting dedicated to setting up and managing teacher web pages in September, 2008. The integrator from the Middle School came over and worked with a group who wanted to set up blogs and I worked with teachers who needed assistance with their FirstClass web pages. We left that meeting with all classrooms having an initial page established. Since then I have met with teachers before school, after school at lunch and during a few minutes of a schedule lab period to assist them with the web pages and blogs.

At each grade level the majority of teachers have posted photos, movies and student-created presentations of their learning. Some of the examples include:
Voicethread descriptions of Student Art are an example of postings Cam is doing with each grade
Audio clips of student songs for each class to support Music practice at home.
•A Voicethread on Laura Skowronkis's page describes their Arctic Sculptures
•Stephanie's photos, movies and voicethreads at the bottom of the page as are Kim's .
•Elke's first class Voicethread on Arctic Animals and she has photos with commentary as well.
•Carli's class read their Arctic poems and posted a recent play as well as photos of the year.
•Richard's everexpanding class blog has been going all year.
•Chris used her class blog to share plans with parents and she scans student work for display.
•Karin's class created biographies that are posted online in addition to an informational web page.
•Nicole started a blog this year to send home newsletters and information about the class.
•Gabe uses a blog to send home information on various pages.
•Nancy's student photographers made a Sugaring Time movie last week and they have been using an Observation Blog this year.
•Mary Jo has used her web page for the past two years to list upcoming events and curricular links.
•Renee's class created slideshows about inventions that created a freedom and they have maintained a class blog.

Many of these links will not stay active as teachers will take them down to make room for next year's classes, but for now they are wonderful audiovisual representations of student learning. The pride students exhibit when they hear that their work is on the Internet is palpable in the room and it is fun to hear them talk of sharing it with their families.

Next year I would like to work on moving some of the static content that is consistent across the classes into a grade level wiki that could be linked to each teacher page. I would like to continue to expand the multimedia projects that students post online. A couple of teachers and I are looking at possibilities for expanding student communication and collaboration by sharing blog entries across classes and possibly in other countries.

May 2, 2009

New Media Literacies Conference at MIT

Check out the New Media Literacies Ning announced at a conference held at MIT today. The ning is shown below:

April 1, 2009

Scratch! (Creativity & Innovation)

This week I have been teaching 4th graders to use Scratch from the MIT Media Lab. It's GREAT! I can't remember when I've had this much fun teaching and the room has been full of kids who are empowered, active and creating. I used the videos from the Scratch site to introduce the concept of the program to the students and gave them a few starter commands from the Scratch Cards. Within twenty minutes the students were recording their own voices, "whirling" sprites, adding sound effects, creating speech clouds, and creating iinteractions between sprites. It has been fascinating to see some students focus on sounds, others on motion and others on looks and paint features. Doing this with several classes has given me the opportunity to see teachers who have supported creativity and innovation in their classroms and are cheerleaders as their students explore this entirely new realm. Where does this fit in the curriclum? To me it teaches thinking, problem-solving and feeds the "dessert brain" referenced in Edutopia magazine by Hugh Osborn.

March 23, 2009

Transforming Learning Environments with Technology

This is a wordle of the language used in the ISTE Standards for Teachers booklet describing what it will look like to transform learning environments through the use of technology:

March 21, 2009

Literacy 2.0 edition of Educational Leadership

The March edition of Ed. Leadership has a collection of articles that are great resources for learning about the new literacies that will be needed by our students. The article "Let's Talk 2.0" is a comprehensive introduction to teachers who want to find out more about web 2.0 in the classroom.

I used some of the material in this edition for faculty meeting conversations and we used this slideshow to frame the meeting:

March 20, 2009

Blog, continued...

This blog is a continuation of a blog I have written for the last two years at