16 Hours 40 Minute Flight Not Needed for a Student Connection

As part of the STEAM by Design Seminar I have prodded and held on based on what I and the students needed at that time. I love this fluidity and most of the students are adjusting to owning their learning more each day. Emma has had an awesome week as she was working on getting the City of Lights project ready to film, started an art project with Julia as they felt we needed more art in our STEAM by Design Seminar. I had to get more Pink Duct Tape for their projects. As class was proceeding Emma said it was too bad that our 3D Wox printer by Sindoh did not have any pink filament. I said they do not sell that color and we can only use their filament. She said, “I think I will contact them!”  She wrote all of this on her own and as you can tell she is great at persuasive writing.

Hello,
I am an 8th grader at Durham Academy in Durham North Carolina. I use the 3D WOX printers in my STEM class at school. I really like to make cool  things that I can use, but you don’t make any pretty colors for us to print with. It would be awesome if you could make colors such as pink, purple and sky blue. I like the 3D WOX printers better than any other company, but the only thing that would prevent me from recommending it are the filament colors. I think that you would get a lot more buisiness with better colors.
Thank you very much for considering this idea.
Sincerely,
Emma

Dear Emma,

The new Filament colors (Purple and Pink) are going to be available in the early March. (This had not been announced anywhere – emphasis mine)
You will be able to purchase them through Amazon.
Please let us know for any other questions.
Thank you.
3DWOX Team

This was really a cool response and we were both happy about the reply. She went to her first two classes and then came running into the STEAM lab at break beaming with smiles and floating on clouds as she had another message.

How cool is this? I love this printer (have 3 and ordering 3 more) for our school as the printers just plain work! Now I love this company for supporting a students dream to print in pink!

Will You Blend?

 

 

I am attending The Perfect Blend conference tomorrow at Cary Academy. The conference is sponsored by NCAIS and VISnet where I serve on the Advisory Board. As a presenter and advisor, I did not need to register so to that degree, I am being compensated. I am excited to hear more about what other schools are doing around blended learning as well as sharing my perspective on how to know if your school is ready.

 

Teaching and Learning with the Unlinked Net

Unlinked

Images from OpenClipart.org

I have been thinking of this post for a while as our students begin blogging more this year. Most all students in the Middle School are now blogging through Language Arts classes using Edublogs. In grade five, students use a teacher’s blog to post with the teacher serving as the editor who must approve both posts and comments. In grade six students and teachers use the class blog feature in Edublogs so that each student has their own blog but are managed under the teachers blog. This system worked well last year as it provides the students with ownership and a place to find their voice. The teachers still serve as editors and must approve all pages, posts, and comments. This systems works well to establish solid writing, collaborative commenting skills, and learning how to interact in an online community. These are important skills that must be taught if we do not want a world of trolls on the internet. Starting this year, grade seven students and teachers will be expanding the use of class blogs with the students starting with restricted publishing as they start the new year. This will soon move to full editing and publishing done by the students with the teacher only serving the roll of monitor. In grade 8, the class blogs have no restrictions for what is posted and commented and the teacher serves as a monitor. While the blogs have different setups, the goals are the same: Write for an authentic audience, Write more, Learn to write collaborative comments, and establish a presence on the internet that showcases your work and yourself. I feel it is important for students to work at creating their own “Google Juice” so they are searchable with results ranging from silly photos to articles written by them. All of our blogs are open to the public and indexed by Google and other search engines.

The idea of cultivating “Google Juice” is also why four years ago we started having students create and manage digital portfolios with Google sites. These portfolios hold not only a link to their personal blog but also samples of exemplar work along with goal settings and reflections on the student’s learning. These portfolios live at the edges of what we do as all of our Google Apps services are private only to our school which means no one outside of our school or any search engine cannot access them.

This leads to the title of this post as I have been asked by teachers the following question: “How will parents find our blogs?” The quick answer was to send them a message with the link. While that works, it does raise the larger question in my mind of how do we expose all of the wonderful learning and teaching going on when it is not linked by our school or not accessible to anyone outside of our school? Should we expose this part of our school to the world? What are the risks? What are the rewards? I can make a page on Veracross which would allow anyone from our school to find the blogs. I do encourage teaches to list their blogs in the Edublogs directory as a way to engage with the world. 

 

Until I figure out the best solution, here is a list of the blogs so far. Some will have a link to class blogs on the side.

Grade 4 – Mrs. KarolMr. Mason

Grade 5 – Mrs. Goldstein, Mrs. Parry

Grade 6 – Mrs. WilliamsMrs. Donnelly, Mrs. Saffo-Cogswell

Grade 7 – Mrs. Howes,  Mr. Michelman (new this year and not doing it yet), Mrs. Engebretsen

Grade 8 – Mr. Sheard, Mr. Michelman (new this year and not doing it yet), Mrs. Engebretsen

Students Remember

NewImage

The image above is called “Working Memory” from Openclipart.org which depicts my retained memory each year I walk this planet. I have been teaching since 1993 when I started as a Science teacher at Grey Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill, NC. As my classroom became more technological I became a Technology coordinator and ended up leaving in 1999 to take the position I now have at Durham Academy. In 1997, I had a classroom with a variety of Macintosh computers with inkjet printers. We did a lot of hands-on activities and used the computers when it made sense. Today, I work with iPads, Computer Labs and no shortage of the most powerful tools we can deploy for learning. I still think we should use technology when it makes sense.

I became a teacher to help make a difference in the world and over the years, I think I have helped make some dents in the future. This past weekend I had a message on Twitter from a former student who well, just wanted to thank me. I am so grateful that she did this as while I think I have made a difference, it is nice to be remembered. That is a big part of me even as a parent and grandparent; I want my grandchildren to remember me when I no longer walk this planet with them. To have a student find me and thank me is very fulfilling and thought provoking as I try to remember my classroom and this student. I have some ideas as to who she was 17 years ago. Was she the one who made Speedy, the really cool mouse-trap vehicle? 

This is the exchange of messages:

Khaleyremember

Clearly I was concerned about being remembered even in 1997 as the image below shows. Harrison I think refers to how some of my students thought I looked like Harrison Ford, yeah right:)

Rememberme

Apple Academy Bound

Image from Openclipart.org

I will be spending the next week in Cupertino, CA just across the road from Apple, Inc. headquarters in an intense workshop where I will learn about all things Apple. I will be able to bring all of this knowledge and curriculum back to my school to help train my colleagues and school. The chance to attend is a great honor as I had to apply to be accepted. Actually, I had to be invited to even apply so a tip of the hat to my Apple Representative; Tonia Aldridge for the invite. I plan to absorb as much as I can about not only the technology but also the motivational approach to take with helping our school leverage all of the resources we have at our finger tips.

My plan is to create an iBook based on my iPad Passport Google site so my students and teachers can have it on their iPad and not behind a log in screen since the actual site is private. This would also allow access without an internet connection. In preparation, I have been making a lot of videos as I have essentially needed to get ready for next year before I left for the academy.

Below is an example of one I made and if you want to view more, you can check out my YouTube channel.

 

Here is to a week of learning!

What if it was Stranger Friend and Not Stranger Danger

Image fromッ Zach Hoeken ッ 

I enjoy reading George Couros’ blog The Principal of Change and liked this post as it resonates with the message I tell my students. There is so much we can learn, share, and help each other with that to cast anyone me meet online as a danger waiting to happen diminishes all that we are and all that the Internet can offer. Should you be careful? Of course! Should you not be careful when traveling to a city or a wilderness area? Absolutely! I have a newspaper article hanging on the bulletin board outside my office that has this 2009 headline: “Unfriendly peers pose greatest Net threat”which features research from Kaiser Foundation in 2007. It is now 6 years later and we still discuss using the Internet as something to be careful

Mark Moran left a comment with a link to Yoursphere which looks like a neat idea on how to help our students and adults in our lives. Check out the Parents section. It is similar to Common Sense Media which is full of great resources.

Granted, not all of us are born without an arm, but all of us can find friends that could add to our lives. 

Join the Hour of Code

 

I have been teaching an after-school class using Codeacademy which has been really successful for my students and myself. I want to help more students and faculty learn about coding and with the plethora of resources available, the science of Computer Science is at the finger tips of anyone who wants to learn. As part of this desire, I want our students to participate in the hour of code and have asked faculty if perhaps that week, we could drop everything and code or I guess DEAC instead of DEAR (Drop Everything and Read).

How about you join us? If you are a teacher and register you will get 10 GB of space on Dropbox which is pretty darn cool and nice tip of the hat to Dropbox. 

This movie reminds us of the power that was Steve Jobs to change the world. 

Being the Subject is Different

liveeworkcreate

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28826792@N00/5971423516

Joanne Shang, a colleague, is getting her Masters and needed my help. 

This is her request:

Hi Karl,
I need to ask you for a favor again!
I am working on an assignment, for my graduate course, to create a documentary on someone in my everyday world who lives creatively. 
I can’t find a better person than you who lives your life with an obviously creative approach, integrating technology and working with middle school children at work and 
managing a farm and working with animals at home. 
May I ‘interview’ (and videotape) you at work on Tuesday 4/2) and Wednesday (4/3) while you are engaged in creative work.  
I wish I had the opportunity to tape you working on the farm too, but due to time constraint, that will be for the next project. 
 Having nothing to loose I agreed as I am prone to do. I think she captured it very well and I am amazed at all that I do and have done since I was born on a farm in Southwest Wisconsin fifty-six years ago.
 

 

Am I Treading Lightly Enough?

Tread Lightly

http://www.flickr.com/photos/21317398@N04/6243312715

As I work on writing comments for my students during our teacher workday, I found a link to Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk in a shared Google Doc from the English Departments Retreat last week. I had not seen it so with two browsers open, one for comments, and one for soul food, I listened and wrote. How do I best support my students learning? How exactly did they walk into our collective learning environment? What dreams did they leave at home because they do not get to fulfill them during school? Should I even care?

My day started out with an email from a friend who is opening a new school in August. He has worked on this for a few years and while I no longer interact with him due to a possible conflict of interest, I am happy to see him getting closer to realizing a dream of his. I am jealous a bit in that he has gone for his dream. Not that I haven’t as I am doing a job I love with a school that has all of the learning resources needed at the ready. Yet, I feel like something is missing and maybe it is the change that Sir Ken speaks to and that I think Steve is going to try to foster. My own grandchildren are in school now and I see a melting of the dreams that they once shared with me. What can I do better to nurture all of the dreams of the dreamer, myself included?  

Steve had read a post by Denise Krebs and got to using VoiceThread and remembered how I had told him about how much I like it. You can read more at his blog. 

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

 

This is a quote from the talk when he reads a poem W. B Yeats.

I wanted to read you a quick, very short poem from W. B. Yeats, who some of you may know. He wrote this to his love, Maud Gonne, and he was bewailing the fact that he couldn’t really give her what he thought she wanted from him. And he says, “I’ve got something else, but it may not be for you.”

He says this: “Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.