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 http://usmepc508.wikispaces.com/.

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 Learning.com 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.