Monday, May 26, 2008

What if it's true?

A recent article in eSchoolNews discusses the top searches performed by students in about 20,000 U.S. schools. These schools use a search engine called Net Trekker to catalog their students' web search queries.

According to the article, here are the top 15 searches being performed by students in these schools:
1. Games
2. Dogs
3. Animals
4. Civil War
5. George Washington
6. Holocaust
7. Abraham Lincoln
8. Multiplication
9. Math Games
10. Weather
11. Frogs
12. Fractions
13. Planets
14. Sharks
15. Plants

The question, for me, is: "what if this is true?" I can't help but notice that these students are not searched for pornography or YouTube videos or any of the other things that people are so worried that students will do when let loose on the internet.

I also recognize that this report is probably no where near scientific, but I think the results are more than a little compelling. Maybe, those of us who want to "protect" our students should pay closer attention to how they are actually using the Internet, and less time wrapping them in intellectual bubble wrap?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

NYSCATE Ning Social Network

A NYSCATE member, Brian C. Smith, has started a Ning social network which aims to bring together a community engaged in NYSCATE's work and mission.

You can check it out here.

NYSCATE 2008 Metro Conference Presentation

Here is the slideshow from my NYSCATE 2008 Metro Conference Presentation, entitled "What Happens When Students are Given a Voice?"

NYSCATE 2008 Metro Conference

I was fortunate enough to present at and attend the NYSCATE 2008 Metro Conference this past weekend.

I will post later about my presentation (as soon as I have a chance to turn it into a podcast). For now, I just wanted to say how struck I was by presentations that I attended. Here are some highlights:
  • A librarian (and her colleagues) in a Rockland County, New York district came up with a low cost way to do video conferencing using laptops and camcorders and free software. Check out their wiki here. They then created intra-district events that were really innovative. They took struggling Middle School readers, gave them picture and story books, which they would normally be too embarrassed to read, even if those books were at their reading level, and then created a video conference where those students read those books to elementary students. The Middle Schoolers practiced their reading (without knowing) and then had the opportunity to contribute to the younger students, all in a way that engaged all the students.
  • Educational Technology staff members in the Bronx (here's their wiki) shared a program where High School students created documentaries, and in the process learned storytelling and research skills. And created a really compelling documentary on the history of their High School.
  • A graduate student in Instructional Technology at NYIT shared research she did in which she allowed struggling students create their own curriculum with technology and through which the students did amazing work.

I left so inspired and so challenged and with so many ideas to try and sit with and let percolate.