Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Amazing Class Blog

I just came across this class blog for an AP Biology class.

This (brilliant) teacher has invented a role for the students. They are sherpas, and their jobs (like the actual sherpas in the Himalayas) is to be a guide to the other students and to generally contribute to the learning in the class.

What will the sherpa do here?

1. Summarize the day's lesson.
2. Highlight the important points of the lesson -- especially highlighting concepts exemplifying the 8 themes of biology (more about these later).
3. Highlight any unanswered questions left after the class.
4. Help clarify any points of confusion left after class.
5. Point us to resources that help learn today's lesson -- like animations, videos, diagrams, photos, other teacher's Web sites that illustrate concepts we've been learning. AP Biology (Period 1&2) 2007-08: Welcome to Our Virtual Classroom:

And, the teacher's introduction:
Let me make that clear -- this isn't MY blog; this is OUR blog. This blog is what you'll make of it.

I find this so inspiring, in terms of using the blog as a tool to let students be contributing members of the class in an ongoing conversation.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So, what happens next?

This eSchool News online article reports on a pending breakthrough in extremely low cost computing.
... small, California-based company NComputing, predicts that by 2009 many schools will be able to provide their students with portable, online capabilities for as little as $100 each--and perhaps as little as $30 or $40 per user for non-mobile devices. Wireless capacity, says Dukker, should be a relatively inexpensive bonus by then.
The article goes on to talk about schools in Macedonia:

Macedonia's Ministry of Education and Science selected NComputing over four other bidders and will use the company's "multi-user virtual desktop software," along with inexpensive terminals, to provide computing for some 400,000 students, most of whom attend school in half-day sessions.

It makes my head spin thinking about a country full of students ALL having access to Web 2.0 tools. The burning question is this: What happens when these (and any) students are fully empowered to have their own voices? What does education look like then?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More than a thousand words

We can talk about the world getting smaller, but here's a video from Google that shows how email goes across the world.
P.S. It would make a great class project for something.

He stole the words from my mouth

I have been talking about blogging in the classroom for over a year.

Here is somebody (Mark Franek in the Christian Science Monitor) saying what I have been trying to:

My own evolution from Luddite to digital Lazarus has transformed the way I teach in my English class. I used to think that a blog was a large clog in my kitchen sink. Then last year, I took the plunge and required my students to create and maintain their own blogs, where they showcase their essays, stories, images, podcasts, and videos.

Teachers who are using blogs, social-networking sites, and video-sharing sites in school settings are giving young people the opportunity to tune their thinking and writing to a larger audience. When students know that anyone in the school with an Internet connection – or around the world, for that matter – can read what they have written or created, it is remarkable how quickly their thinking improves, not to mention the final product.

It is worth repeating his last sentence:
When students know that anyone in the school with an Internet connection – or around the world, for that matter – can read what they have written or created, it is remarkable how quickly their thinking improves, not to mention the final product.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Does this ring a bell? Stuff from Edutopia

Two things really hit me as I was reading through the recent issue of Edutopia.

The first was an editorial discussing the opportunity this editor sees in what's happening in education. He is responding to this summer's National Educational Computing Conference (NECC).

The educational community is filled with innovative thinkers, but sometimes you have to look at the margins to find them. Or just go upstairs.

While the sprawling show hummed below, some of the nation's best edubloggers were popping in and out of the Bloggers Cafe, on Level Two of the World Congress Center. It was a beehive, with dozens of bloggers rapidly exchanging ideas, and even having a few laughs.

Many of the nation's top edubloggers were there: David Warlick, Vicki Davis, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beech, Will Richardson (full disclosure: he's on our advisory board), David Jakes, Joyce Valenza -- too many to mention, really. Most arrived a day early to take part in an edubloggers' "unconference," where many met face-to-face for the first time. And nearly all agreed that the greatest energy and excitement of NECC came from the Bloggers Cafe, and the multiuser Skype conversations during sessions.To many, the main event became a sideshow.

Said Richardson, "That model of someone standing on a stage talking for an hour paled as compared to just having a conversation. The whole experience has challenged my thinking a great deal." Editor's Note: Edubloggers Innovate | Edutopia
Now, imagine that Richardson was talking about us and our students in our classrooms and read the quote again:

"That model of someone standing on a stage talking for an hour paled as compared to just having a conversation."

Later in the issue, there was an article that talked about an innovative program in rural Alaska, where students grade levels were disbanded and students worked on an individualized program to complete the district's 1000 standards.

Even as globalization and media propel our culture -- and our classrooms -- toward modes of production that are bigger, faster, and more alike, Chugach has refocused on an approach to education that is smaller, personalized, and variably paced. As Douglas Penn, the districtwide principal, explains, "Our kids graduate when they're ready. We're not pumping them out the door with Ds on their diplomas." Northern Lights: These Schools Literally Leave No Child Behind | Edutopia

So, here is one answer to the "opportunity" of our current situation in education.
What's yours?
What's mine?

Blogged with Flock

Monday, September 10, 2007

Knock Knock Joke

I have been interested in how it is that we give our students an opportunity to develop not just understanding, but ownership.

This afternoon, I listed to my 3 year old niece and her 5 year old brother (try to) tell me "knock knock" jokes. As often happens, they had the pattern, but didn't get the punchline (so to speak).

It make me think of what it takes to cross the bridge from knowledge to understanding to ownership. Somehow, we need to create a set of experiences for our students (and our selves) that facilitates moving from the pattern (or the basics) of some piece of content to a deep understanding, and finally the ability to generate knowledge for ourselves.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't talk about technology?

An Amazing Tool

I was catching up on Will Richardson's blog and found a posting about Voicethread. I have just spent a few minutes with it and my head is spinning (in a good way).

The idea is this: you can post a photo or photos or other images and then record a voicethread over it. Cool enough. But other users can record voicethreads over the same image, effectively adding a multitude of voices to one images (or one set of images). All the recording (or typing, if you prefer to annotate instead of narrate) happens inside the browser.

My head is spinning imagining the classroom opportunities. You can have a class of students react to a set of images. They can prepare really unique slide shows, ones that are much more interesting than PowerPoint (or its cousins). Here's a great example.

As a science teacher, I am thinking about posting a diagram or graph and have students talk about what it says to them.

More as it happens.

Welcome to the new home


This blog has been around for about a year as Teaching to reach every single student. My goal was to explore the role of various Web 2.0 technologies in education.

I am still interested in this topic, along with other issues in education, and will continue the conversation here.

Thanks for visiting.