Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Share, Remix and Learn Hands on Session

NECC Hands-On Session: Open Educational Resources: Share, Remix, Learn
by Karen Fasimpaur
Handouts and resources at www.k12opened.com/necc2009

Due to the nature of the session, I did not take many notes. Please visit the website for full session notes and resources.

Free Reading – K-3 free reading resources (state adopted by Florida)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are:
-free and open – open source is best (i.e. blogger vs wordpress)
-tools, content and implementation resources
-for teachers, students, and lifelong learners

Learning Adventures Gary Stager

NECC Session: Learning Adventures: Redesigning Learning Environments in Real and Virtual Classrooms
by Gary Stager


My notes:
21st Century Skills – creativity, curiosity, collaboration

We need to build upon the possibility of our kids. Foster their spirit and develop their deep understanding of why we use technology and how we use them.

The choice:
Distance education
Solving Problems: distance, scarcity, skilled educators
reduce personnel costs
deliver standardized content

Distributed learning
anytime, anywhere learning

expand image of online student
students take online courses for a variety of reasons
we need the best teachers teaching online classes

Can I see your class?
Principles of OMAET
Knowledge is a consequence of experience
What do students do in your class?
Collaborative projects, knowledge sharing and Socratic discussion
Knowledge lives on the Web
Learning occurs best in a Community of Practice
Expertise is distributed
A blend of synchronous and synchronous communication is required

Simulating Intimacy Online via volume & velocity

Be open to emerging technology
-including free, low-cost and decentralized tools

Simplify the user experience
-avoid false complexity
-multiple places to save or submit work
-complicated tools

I don't need to manage a class

Don't count clicks
-What is participation?
-The cocktail party metaphor “This isn't a cocktail party” - What kind of cocktail party do you attend, come and go when you are engaged in the conversation.
Formal & Informal learning takes place

-voice & plagiarism – you get to know the student's voice through their comments and chats

learning and technology
-at same time as formal learning theory course
-can you go through an entire educational technology degree problem without computing?

Learning adventures
model constructivism & project based learning online
coercion-free (intrinsic motivation)
Encourage risk-taking & collaboration
-Feature an element of surprise
-the teacher's focus is on process
-supports reflective practice
-uses a range of skill & technology in rich ways
-Does not create winners or losers (no bell curve)

"If it were up to me, I would only give two grades... an "A" and "incomplete." ~@garystager
"The cocktail party is a brilliant metaphor for a good learning environment." ~Gary Stager
"Blackboard is great for taking lunch orders and ratting on kids." ~Gary Stager
"simulate intimacy online is done via volume and velocity of discussions" ~Gary Stager

key ingredients
-element of surprise
-adequate time
-Supportive culture
-“Open everything”
-space for sharing personal reflection

be flexible
-multiple synchronous sessions
-cook a turkey until its done

Authentic problem, real construction materials – Learning Adventures
-must be in a position to figure it out and no fear of failure
-Lady MacBeth Composition (understand the character to compose her theme song)
-Where the Chicago Seven martyrs?

Literacy is the problem – no one reads, no one takes a note, etc.

Teachers should ask for more than one source to support the theory, not limit the sources that can be consulted. (Peer reviewed Journals vs Wikipedia)

Is Ned Kelley a hero? (from Australia)
International example before country example so that biases don't enter into the discussion right at the beginning of the research prompt.


A good prompt is worth 1,000 words
1.a good prompt, challenge, problem or motivation
2.appropriate materials
3.sufficient time
4.supportive culture (including expertise)

community vs. community of practice

overlooked features of a C.O.P.

Elders, experts, newbies
Shared history, mythology, heroes, self-importance
Common commitment to progress
Entry into the community is based on a willingness to imitate the behaviors of the masters.

The Critical Role of Expertise: community of practice

Technology matters = makes memories

Monday, June 29, 2009

Demonstration of a Grade 7 Math Class using a SMART Board

NECC09 Session: Demonstration of a Grade 7 Math Class using a SMART Board

My Notes:

Uses story to start math lesson about Renee Descartes – animated using Smart Board

Lesson: Coordinate Plane

Review: Warm up on number lines (animated)


Had students fold paper – demonstration on SMART Board with virtual paper photos or graphics. Paper cut to leave room for notes on paper on sides of Coordinate Plane.

Visual Lesson – have students come up an interact with the Smart Board – auditory and visual supports with animation

Used airliner to draw on quadrants (denoted by different colours) enables classroom management by the teacher and allows for student involvement.

Test knowledge using senteo handheld asking questions.

Transforming your Smart Lessons more Interactive

NECC Session: Transforming your Smart Lessons more Interactive
by Obe Hostetter


My notes are limited due to checking out his website for the following resources and tips. Check it out! It is fantastic!

Embed movie clips
Math examples
Science Resources
Social Studies Resources
English Resources
Smart Board Resources

Good resources for finding animations to use in Notebook software.
Use Notebook gallery to find all the multimedia – type flash

Smart Board Tips, Tricks and Tools

NECC Session: Smart Board Tips, Tricks and Tools
by Jennifer Uhl


Session Notes:

SMART Research: Building Collaboration Between Teachers and Library Media Specialists

NECC Session: SMART Research: Building Collaboration Between Teachers and Library Media Specialists
Rachel Yurk (Gr. 6) and Tony Heinowski (Library Media Specialist)
from Wisconsin


My notes on the session:

Example-engagement of students- using Smart Board to present about themselves – What happened on your birthday?
Presenters used pull tabs during presentation

Understanding by Design
Begin with the end in mind
Engage students so they can uncover ideas
Stages of Backward Design (Grant wiggins and Jay McTighe)

Six Facets of Understanding (when students are reading or doing research)

Student Research Tools of Today:
Video Conferences
Jog the Web – (Start lesson with) uses screen shots so students know what they will be looking at when they go to the Library Media Centre website. (http://jogtheweb.com) Shows students what they will be doing on the web. Can provide passwords, recommended websites, how to log-into world book, Royalty free music for schools.
Google Earth Investigations -
Skype Conferences (video, chat and interviews)
Library Print Media

Collaboration Tools for Teachers
Google Docs – (Use Understanding by Design template to collabrate with teachers to add questions and resources based on expertise of contributor)

What “ends” do you have in mind?
Lets Play American Idol! - Student led presentations:
Voice Thread
SMART Notebook Presentation
Museum Box
Power Point Presentation
Teaching Copyright and Plagiarism
interactive document you can use to demonstrate the rules
You quote It, You Note It! - http://library.acadiau.ca/tutorial/plagiarism
using a screen rewriting copy and paste into own words

Make step-by step directions for instructions that students can refer to.
Insert questions into the document for students to test their understanding of the document.

Tips for Smart Board and Web Searching:
Searchasaurus for younger students to search on the internet.
Balloon popping to reveal information and pictures.
Hide and cover text on Notebook slides.
Make up multiple choice questions on cards to answer during presentations.
Turning blocks to answer questions.
Integration of Excel into Notebook

The 10 Best Free 2.0 Tools for Educators

NECC09 Presenation: The 10 Best Free 2.0 Tools for Educators

by Steve Dembo, Discovery Education Network

Links to his presentation, notes and contact information:





My notes from the presenation:

What is Web 2.0?

  • Entirely Web Based – you don't need to install software

  • Interactive – something to do when you go there

  • Plays Well With Others – allows you to move content (mix and mash)

    1) Bloglines (http://bloglines.com/)

  • keep track of all your favourite blogs, news, searches and more

  • all the news comes to you and you don't have to waste time going to check out all of your blogs

  • Plays well with others – see what others are reading

2) Delicious (http://delicious.com/)

  • Put your bookmarks online

  • Keeps it simple and does this well – that is why it is possible

  • Look at other people's bookmarks and see what they have saved and subscribe to their bookmarks

  • Use tags to categorize topics or subjects

3) Share Tabs (http://sharetabs.com/)

  • share your links as tabs

  • type in a number of sites and then gives you a page with the tabs to click on

  • preview a number of websites with thumbnail photos of the website

4) drop.io (http://drop.io/)

  • Online drop box – phone it, fax it, email it, text it, upload it, share it

  • 100 MB for free

  • use for podcasting by phoning in your audio

  • gives you the embed code and link

5) JayCut (Beta) (http://jaycut.com/)

  • Full video editor online

  • publish behind a firewall and keep private and you don't have copyright issues

  • you can download it to your computer or online

  • unlimited space is available

  • multiple users on one account

  • http://mediaconverter.com/ is a favourite converter

6) Edmodo (http://edmodo.com/)

  • twitter or microblogging for educators to be use for school

  • can be behind a password – can be public or private

  • can organize it by class

  • send messages through filters to any number of classes or users

  • can have a public or private calendar

  • version 3.0 will let you embed audio, video or online tools/plug-in

  • zemote on twitter

7) Poll Everywhere (http://polleverywhere.com/)

  • mobile phone supported classroom polling

  • use text messaging to respond

  • 30 votes for free per poll

  • account polls – use 10 at a time to download as a powerpoint and have live slides

  • you can have a computer or laptop to respond to poll

  • twitter integration for more feedback

8) xtra normal (http://xtranormal.com/)

  • online animator in 3-D

  • text-to-movie

  • supports different languages by changing language settings – you type in the language and it pronounces it in that language

  • establishing shot enabled – choosing a camera angle

  • choosing animation of the movie

  • rendering (creating) takes some time before it is ready

  • publishing then allows embed code

9) livestream (http://www.livestream.com/)

  • allows for live online streaming video and computer sharing

10) prezi (http://prezi.com/)

  • easy to interact

  • no slides, just a list of windows linked through a tag cloud.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NECC09 Openning Keynote - Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell starts of NECC09 with a fantastic keynote!

Gladwell's keynote to NECC delegates talked about the importance of creating meaningful learning environments in our classrooms.

So what does it take to create these Meaningful Learning Environments? Here are my notes from his keynote:

When we look at someone who masters something, we tend to “telescope” how long it took to learn or master that skill. Meaning we skip over how long it actually took for them to really master a skill. Gladwell said it is important to talk about how long it actually took to master a complex task or enjoy success. Throughout his speech, Gladwell used the example of Fleetwood Mac. This band was not discovered overnight, nor did it enjoy instant success. It wasn't it's first album that was its first #1 hit, it was its 16th album.

1st lesson: Effort, Attitude and Practice:

Gladwell talked about his book Outliners where he discusses the idea of the 10,000 hour rule. His theory is that it takes someone 10,000 hours or 4hrs/day for 10 years of practice before they can be masters of a particular skill or talent.

Examples given:

  • Bobby Fisher – 9 years of practicing chess before becoming a master.
  • Mozart – first big Concerto: #9271 when he was 23 years old after 14 years of practice.
  • Beatles – Practicing in a club in Hamburg 12,000 times live. In the end, the band played together live before coming to America 7 days/week for a number of years.

Implications of this rule:

Even with talent, you need to have a great attitude about effort. An approach that says that effort is crucial to me being successful.

Another example given by Gladwell was a story about a questionnaire consisting of 120 questions before doing a complex math assessment. Results of countries who are successful in teaching math are those who are successful in teaching or reinforcing the attitude of effort. To do well at math means you need to have a positive attitude and need to demonstrate an effort towards math.

Another statement, the only way to catch up when you are behind is to work hard and to put in the time to learn.

2nd lesson: Compensation Strategy vs. Capitalism strategy:

The band builds on their failures. Compensation strategy is where you compensate for your weaknesses. Capitalism strategy is where you build on your strengths.

Hunger and effort are better gauges for measuring success than height, strength, looks, etc.

Leadership skills are important. Compensating for skills that people are missing or struggling with develop problem solving skills. Gladwell gave the example of someone with dyslexia. When they delegate to others reading and writing they are developing their problem solving skills and they are learning how to talk and be persuasive with others. In other words, they are developing their oral communication skills. Dyslexic entrepreneurs are those who managed to compensate for their disability.

Class size – students learn to compensate for the lack of teacher attention in bigger classes therefore they develop compensation skills.

Question: How do we create learning environments that encourage the practice of compensation skils?

3rd Lesson: Learning strategy- It is best to zigzag not follow a linear path – the best learn through trial and error over a period of time before becoming great.

Gladwell gave the example of an experimental inventor who finds their way to genius through trial and error.

Cezanne is an example of an artist who practices this type of learner.

Incorporates the idea of feedback – timely and targeted feedback.

Trying something and then the feedback helps make this a success. How the learning takes place is more important than where the learning takes place.

If you would like to watch Gladwell's keynote yourself, you can do so by creating a free istevision account. The link to the video is: Gladwell on ISTE Vision

Welcome to Washington, DC and NECC

I'm in Washington, DC!

After a long day of flying, and thankfully little delay, I arrived in Washington, DC for the NECC on Saturday afternoon.

I had a great start to my NECC experience by starting off my Sunday morning with a tour of Washington, DC. I signed up for a bus tour and enjoyed visiting the different monuments around the city with an excellent guide. I got to visit a number of famous historical monuments including the memorials for Lincoln, FDR, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. I also got to see the Capital building, the White House and the Washington monument. All in all it was an informative tour that makes me want to come back again to explore the city's other monuments and museums. Check out my Flickr album for some photos of my tour and other sights around Washington.

I am very excited to see the conference get underway. I'm looking forward to hearing the keynote tonight, Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers. My goals for this conference are to learn as much as possible about the integration of educational technology into my current practice. I will be starting the new school year with a SMART Board and I look forward to learning more about this amazing classroom tool. I also look forward to meeting a number of people that I have connected with over the year on Twitter and other networking sites. I'm guessing this will be a life changing experience and have a great affect on my current teaching practice. Stay tuned as I write about some of the sessions I will be attending this week.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Funny - Top 10 Things You Didn’t Learn About Teaching in College

A School Transformation in Hamilton Ontario

I was browsing the ISTE website and came across an inspirational story. I decided that I had to share this digital story (video) made by Lawfield Elementary School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada who had to reconstruct their school after a tornado. A news story was published on TheSpec.com about this school's design. It was designed with a Universal Design Vision. Here is the description they submitted to the ISTE website:

"After our community school was hit by a Tornado, the staff and students had to relocate for two years while a new school was being built. In March of 2008, this school, Lawfield, was constructed with a Universally Designed Vision. By
reallocating resources and using recycled furniture, principal William Demille made a commitment to transform this new school into a universally designed environment with Speaker systems in every classroom, Smartboards, document cameras and much more. The staff and students will always feel a sense of connection after experiencing such turmoil and change. The transformation has just begun."

Here is their video. I hope to make one about our school next year after we have gone through "Structural Innovation". I find a lot of what they are talking about similar to what we will be doing at our school next year.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell's Outlier - A Review

I'm very excited to be attending NECC in Washington, DC for the first time at the end of June. In preparation for this conference, I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell's book Outlier. Gladwell will be a keynote speaker at NECC and I wanted to know more about him before I saw him at the conference. I find it exciting to know that a British born Canadian journalist is a keynote speaker at such a large American conference.

If you want to know more about this book, Amazon you can read the description on the Amazon website. Amazon has also included two videos from Gladwell on their website. Video 1 and Video 2. I always find it interesting to hear authors talk about their books.

Two concepts that Gladwell discusses in his book that I found to be thought provoking are:

"The Matthew Effect"
Gladwell shares his theory about why people are successful. His theory is that people aren't just successful because of their merits, but more simply because of what time of year they are born. He calls this the Matthew Effect. This advantage stems from the arbitrary dates our society uses to make up such things as sports teams or when a child can enter Kindergarten. Children born just after the cut-off date are retained a year before entering school or starting a sport. Afterwards, they are considered more talented or able when in fact they are simply more mature.

10,000 hours
Gladwell presents an interesting case using famous examples of people such as the Beattles and Bill Gates to explain how long it takes to master a skill before you can be considered a real talent. These bands or people were not overnight discoveries, they were people who practiced their craft over 10,000 hours before they were "discovered". Through this practice, they are considered to be masters of their craft. For people like the Beattles and Gates, they happened to have put in the practice time soon enough to demonstrate their skills at the right time. Not only talent, skill and practice contributed to their success, but timing and circumstance as well.
These are only two of the ideas that Gladwell talks about in his book. I found the entire book to be food for thought and encourage everyone to read it. You will be talking about it for years to come if you do!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to Make an Effective Presentation

My school division is in the midst of studying "structural innovation". It struck a committee in the fall of 2009 made up of teachers and administrators who were interested in studying this more in depth. They were sent to other schools, mostly in the US, to observe and gather information about alternative school structures. I wish I had been able to join this committee, but couldn't find the time to fit it into my schedule this year.

This week, I made the effort to attend three days of after school presentation blocks about what the committee members had seen during their travels. In all, I sat through 10 Power Point presentations. All, but one, were bullet-point style presentations. (The exception being a video made by students in a school in Australia talking about being independent learners.)

By the third day, I had seen enough bullet points to last me a lifetime. I'm guessing by the style of the presentations, the presenters were limited in what they could say or were asked by the division to produce a Power Point that could be officially approved and then be distributed. For me the end result was a blur of information and an inability to recall what school had what structure. The only exception was the school in Australia. I can clearly remember what the students said in the video.

The fact that the video was the most memorable part of all of these presentations says to me that the presenters would have been better off presenting photos or videos taken of their schools and then constructing their presentation around that. They could still have had a hand-out to distribute with more information, but more visuals would have been helpful.

In reflecting on this experience, I think that more time needs to be spent in teaching the art of using presentation tools, such as Power Point, to educators and students in general. I don't mean this to be a criticism of the presenters themselves, I just think that there has to be a better way to support presentations then projecting handouts up on the big screen and then reading them to me.

I enjoyed watching this stand-up comic as he talks about "How Not to Use Power Point":

Finally, I remembered hearing once that a presentation should be a summary of the handout and that the handout shouldn't be a summary of the presentation. I try to keep this in mind when I'm giving a workshop or a presentation. I'm just wondering what advice other people might have for those giving presentations so that they don't get caught in the "bullet trap" of Power Point?

-Photo by Photo Mojo on Flickr.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A NYC School's version of "Teacher Idol"

I have read with interest over the past couple of days in the New York Times and on ransomtech's blog about a new school in New York city who recruited the best teachers to come and teach at its new school in the fall. The school didn't just go out and observe these teachers in their element (their classrooms) and then offered them a signing bonus or relocation budget. Instead, they clinched the deal by offering them contracts with a pay of $125,000 a year and a chance to earn up to $25,000 the following year for high performance of their students.

This is an interesting idea as the school's founder, Zeke M. Vanderhoek has decided that excellent teachers, not small classes, the latest technology or talented administrators make a school great. It will be interesting to see how these 8 teachers make out next year with extra responsibilities, longer hours and more students then the average NYC classroom. The principal, Mr. Vanderhoek himself, will earn less than the teachers, $90,000.

Photo by JonDissed on Flickr.com