We Learned the Address

As part of the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, I asked teachers, students, and administrators to record themselves reciting the speech. This is our mashup on Vimeo as YouTube is blocked for our students. http://vimeo.com/79823268

 

 

Since I submitted it to the LearnTheAddress website, you can see it there as well.

Hi, Karl-

The video you submitted to LearnTheAddress.org has been approved!

See it (and share it!) at http://www.learntheaddress.org/#WbMh8gs4VBg, and see all the submitted videos at http://www.learntheaddress.org/videos.

Thanks for your participation!

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. 

What I Learned at GAFE about Portfolios

Learn

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59217476@N00/7211160284

I learned a lot at the Google Apps for Education Summit at Ravenscroft. Of particular interest was the discussions I had with teachers at Ravenscroft and others related to using Google Sites for student portfolios. We have done portfolios for two years now at the Middle School. I worked pretty hard to develop a template and roll it out with teachers and students. While we have begun the process, I felt we also  needed to iterate how we were creating them and utilizing them as part of our learning culture. With my new found knowledge, I have revamped the portfolio template to be more efficient and student driven. My hope is that this will allow it to become more a part of instead of separate from the learning process as a whole.

Because our Google Apps for Education are private, I created a new template that you can use to get started.

This link will take you to the template: 

I included a Google Presentation Tutorial as well focused on how to create the site on an iPad. You can adjust to the device you are using.  

For those of you who came to my presentation on building portfolios, this represents my new thinking while the presentation is very similar to what you saw before.

Writing – #More or #Less

This year our 6th grade students have their own blog as part of their Language Arts class. We use Edublogs for this as the My Class feature allows teachers to manage some aspects that are important to them. Check out Ms. Williams’ and Ms. Donnelly’s for links to student blogs. I know students are writing more since the access to iPads is 24/7. We have seen some scores go up in our ERB tests which while not directly attributed to the iPad or any other technology, there is no doubt the more you write, the better you become at writing. In fact, in our school’s application to become an Apple Distinguished School, we wrote this statement. 

Any worthwhile examination of the effects one-to-one iPads have on student learning must include a look at testing data. After only one year of our program, it is far too early for that data to be conclusive. However, we did discover some thought-provoking data points.

In the classrooms where the teachers had the most experience with integrating digital devices in class (6th grade Language Arts), median student testing gains on three of the five ERB CTP4 subtests were not significantly different from the prior three years of testing. But in two areas, median scores jumped significantly. The running average for the three years prior to the iPad program shows the median student scaled score increasing 9.5 points in Writing Concepts and Skills. Last year that median gain was 13 points. In Reading Comprehension the median gain was even larger – an increase from 3.3 point average gains to last year’s 12 point gain.

We plan to use data points like these as jumping-off points for conversations about the roles technology integration may or may not impact student testing outcomes. And we’ll certainly keep an eye on testing to see whether these gains recur this year, or were anomalies.

Today, I read the story How Digital Writing is Making Kids Smarter on Graphite.org and thought it was great information about how writing more, without cursive, is helping our students. The article also mentioned the video above which I thought relevant as only a few years ago, the term hashtag was not part of the vocabulary of most people. Now we see it everywhere with the rise of Twitter. #iamgettingsmarter.

 

NCAIS Innovate 2013

North Carolina Association of Independent Schools 2

On Friday, I will be presenting at the NCAIS Innovate Conference at Noble Academy in Greensboro, NC. My session will be a repeat of sorts from the Mini-MOOC I did at the Google Apps for Education Summit. I think the idea of using a Google Site as a launching and training platform for any type of device program is incredibly worthwhile. I spoke about this fact at the Apple Event we hosted at our school yesterday on Information Technology aspects to consider for an iPad or other device program. Infrastructure is important, but so is building a community or digitally connected learners that are versed in both skills and citizenship in order to leverage the device. I think the iPad Passport that we have used the past two years is one of the reasons why our students and teachers have been able to extend the learning and not chasing issues like we have seen develop where schools rushed in. For instance, we asked our students to not update to iOS 7 which we could not prevent them from doing (I know) and except for two situations, no one did. In fact, one of the updates was done by a parent who was “helping” her son out by updating all of their families devices. Besides applauding our students restraint, I think we need to acknowledge they have learned about having honor and character as demonstrated with this test of delaying upgrading.

Here is a link to my presentation.

When Learning Is Connected

membean

Our school is using Membean this year in grades 6 – 11 as a way to move beyond the painful vocabulary lessons of the past. The company is awesome to work with and this email from a sixth grade student to her teacher is why we know this is the correct path to take.

Dear Mrs. Williams,
Ok, sorry, I think this will be the last email in a while! Sorry I send a lot! 
I just wanted to say one last cool thing about my things. I really appreciate Membean now, because I see a lot of those words in my books! One example: I also have found many more than just ascertain! If I didn’t do Membean, I wouldn’t know the meaning of the word!

Thank you!

Autumn W. 

Thanks Autumn for making the connection and letting us know. To learn more about Autumn and other thoughts about Membean, visit her blog. http://20autumnw.edublogs.org/ To learn more about Ms. Williams’ class, visit her blog. http://jwroom211.edublogs.org/

VoiceThread Updates iOS App

VoiceThread

I have been a fan of VoiceThread for many years and use it with our school under the Ed.VoiceThread domain. The iOS app was a getting a bit long in the tooth so was excited to see that they have updated it to both take advantage of the iOS 7 update but also to make the use easier. I have been testing it and even though I had some issues to work out since we not only use the ed.voicethread sub-domain, we also use a single-sign on through Shibboleth which I think may have made things a bit more complicated on our end.

I was successful when I chose the following setup in Settings in VoiceThread:

VTiOS7

The sharing has improved but still not as powerful as on a desktop or laptop. The addition of groups will definitely help although I generally start in the computer lab where students create the VoiceThread and then embed it into our Moodle course inside of a forum. We could do the same with a group although I would need to manage those groups which can be more effort then I want to put into the process. Still, the fact that VoiceThread has continued to iterate and improve their product is impressive given they had to adjust to the mobile non-Flash world.

To learn more about the changes to the iOS app go here.

 

 

When Peering Disagreements Stop Digital Learning

YouTube Error Message for Khan Academy 9_23_13

YouTube error

 

There is so much promise of learning with video. YouTube, School Tube, Khan Academy, and the list goes on. Each day though at school the promise of learning is lost because of the way internet service providers and content providers get a long. We have struggled with having a solid dependable connection to YouTube since last January. This is about the same time that Time Warner Cable and Google/YouTube stopped working on their Peering Agreement. Google/YouTube wanted to put a caching server inside of Time Warner Cable’s network hub so the videos could be shared faster since they would be stored locally and not have to come from a Google server. No way would Time Warner Cable allow that since they are in the content business as well. So even though we pay for a 100 MB connection to our Gigabit Ethernet connection, we get this message. Out IT department has made adjustments to help but there is nothing more they can do. This is a great article from Arstechnica on why the promise of digital learning will not be fulfilled until these agreements stay out of the way of learning. http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/07/why-youtube-buffers-the-secret-deals-that-make-and-break-online-video/

Until then we will continue to learn less and don’t even ask about the filtering of information to prevent our students from seeing something on YouTube that might be offensive. Seeing this error message is offensive.