Learning in a Networked World – Will Richardson’s Message to Durham Academy

Networked Teacher

‘NetworkedTeacher’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035553780@N01/344832591

Today almost seems like a dream. Will Richardson is in our school talking to most of our faculty. The Middle School will be watching a movie we are creating as they are having Olweus training.  I have wanted this to happen for the last five years but wondered if we were up to the discussion as a school. I was thrilled when Lee Hark, Upper School Director, asked me last year for a list of speakers as he was looking for someone to kick off our school year. Faculty are participating in a back channel provided by Will where our faculty are able to discuss what he is saying. This is a whole day event that will challenge us to engage in a conversation that will help us answer the big questions facing our school and students.

I plan to weave the challenges he is into our Innovation and Learning Cohort that is discussing the book: The New Culture of Learning by David Thomas and John Seely Brown.

Bravo and thanks to Durham Academy for being willing to discuss these challenges.

His presentation is at this link.

Getting Digital Again


After a wonderful summer break where I worked around the farm, played with grandchildren and rested,  I headed to the NCAIS 21st Century Teacher Academy today to listen to David McGeary. I am presenting tomorrow on VoiceThread and doing an Ignite presentation tonight as part of the NCAIS Master Teacher program. I am doing my Ignite on the premise of old technology committee meeting notes. I hope the humor is not lost on the audience. The idea is that the more things change, in education, many things stay the same. Check it out if you want as it will not embed for some reason.

I have written about that program in past posts. Next week I head back to work to get ready for the school year. There are many changes awaiting me next week with a new Moodle setup (both Moodle 2.0 and being hosted at Moodlerooms), Lion OS on the lab computers. I look forward to the challenges that lay before me as I will appreciate the change from trying to keep the squash bugs away from my squash and instead getting used to the scrolling in Lion.

Reverse Instruction Session

Upside down

‘upside down church’


I attended a Reverse Instruction by Brad Rathgeber who will soon be the Director of The Online School for Girls. These are my notes from his presentation.

Pedagogical approach that moves the lecture components of a traditional class online.

Not an approach for teachers already practicing true Project-Based Learning or extraordinary progressive educators.. as they will find this passe.

Online lectures take 30% less time when delivered online.

Online assessment can also be moved online for some of the mini-assessment.

Murry Ganz is a teacher he shared 5 sections of  AP Biology at Hockaday Girls School in Texas.

His Takeaway:

  • Got over the fear and saw he could move much of the work out of school.
  • Do not go too fast with the students as they will need to learn how to use the new system.
  • Teachers at the school got to know faculty members better and in fact it also helped the students learn each other names.
  • Movies should be around10 minutes in length at the longest.
  • Use class time for discussion and labs.
  • Encourage them to ask questions.
  • Students really liked it as they can listen when they want and can replay it as often as they want.
  • Online Learning should be personal and have personality. If you are a hand talker, use your hands in your videos.

Tools: Screencast-matic http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/, Smartboard,  Quia is also used for grading or quizzing for about $50.00 a year. VoiceThread. Use Document camera. They use Eduvision.Tv to host videos. https://www.eduvision.tv/index.html


Use Open Content like iTunes U, Khan Academy, MIT Opencourseware, other universities have put many courses online.

Getting Started:

  • Start with one thing
  • Be comfortable in front of a camera
  • Take an online course
  • Try a multitude of presentation tools
  • Don’t be afraid to try a lot of approaches
  • Engage in networks that expand your knowledge: PLNs

For many teachers, Reversed Classrooms are the start (not the end) of the journey into online education.


What Inspired Me This Week


‘To be inspired’


I took part in the first ever NCAIS Master Teacher Academy this past week and wanted to share a few inspirations from my wonderful learning adventure. In no particular order here they are:

1. Chris Gergen’s from Bull City Forward presentation was brief but deep. His book Life Entrepreneurs looks wonderful. His advise:  Think unreasonably. Young people are often afraid to risk failure so they do not take the risk. Going from fear of failure to fear of regret is often the step entrepreneurs take. Check out Unreasonable Institute.

2. Learning Times – Jonathan Finkelstein have amazing resources available to connect my class with all sorts of topics and people.

3. Smithsonian Conference Series offers so many ways to connect our students to learning.

4. Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education His TED talk is amazing and should shape all that we do with respect to creating learning environments for our students. His wiki is at http://sugatam.wikispaces.com/

5. The NCAIS Change Agents who presented how to deal with challenges that are presented. It is simple in that within Challenge is the word Change so there will be challenges with change.

6. NAIS iTunes Channel has some great resources.


Instruction, Teaching, Learning, Change in 1806 Minutes



Atlas, it’s time for your bath’  http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/440672445


I read Sarah Hanawald’s post on why are we teaching this stuff and was intrigued. I am in my second rotation of my new Digital Learning class for 5th graders. I calculated how many minutes of face time I have with them to be 1,806 minutes. That is based on meeting 5 times in a rotation of 7 days. The last rotation is just 2 days. There are 9 rotations to a trimester. On average, classes meet for 43 minutes. All of this added up gives me 1,806 minutes of face time or what I have thought of as instructional time. Why do I look at it this way? Is it habit as I my class flows with the others being offered. Is it because I am afraid to try something new? Is it because students have different tools at home and I cannot trouble shoot the issues? Is it because it takes less time to do it the way I am familiar with teaching? I am sure it is a bit of all of these things since I am a human being. Is it the best way to deliver the content to my students by using only the 1,806 minutes allotted by the schedule? Clearly it will not work much longer as I am painfully aware of all that I am not able to teach or expose my students to since the clock is ticking on these 1,806 minutes. I am working on devising the curriculum, projects, and other aspects of the Digital Learning class for 6th graders as I want to adjust it for the older students. How can I maximize the time best and still not burden them with outside work or homework?

There is no way that I can cover all of the topics and skills, nor can I address all of the literacy needs in the 1,806 minutes. What do I cull from the list? How do I help my students be both learners and active instructors in the coursework? I read Jonathan Martin’s post about Reverse Instruction. Perhaps that is the solution or at least a part of it. Could my students create tutorials as part of learning tools? How would that change the nature of the course? Would the work overload their schedule? Lastly, like Sarah mentions, what would happen if I gave my students 5% (90 minutes), 10% (180 minutes) or even 20% (360 minutes) of the class time to create or follow their interests and create learning objects for the class? Would their intrinsic motivation be enough? It might be worth trying a Flip in my 6th grade class. Stacey Roshan has even more flipping going on.

Updated 1/26/2011
I have thought more about how to flip my class around and wonder if it would be worth the time and effort as I teach a course that has a short life span. Tools I teach with today will for sure evolve or go away in a few years. Here is what I mean. I used to teach HyperStudio to teachers from around the state as well as students. While the program still exists, I no longer use it. I need to focus on flipping the broader skills and not the finite skills of how to use the File Menu of software X. The skills of telling a story are as vital as the many other skills that go into using any one piece of software, and have a longer shelf life. I think what I need to flip is telling helping students to tell the story of what they are learning instead of how to use software X. Of course, blended into all of this will be digital literacy skills but not tool skills. Last week I asked a student Kit M. (who I have blogged about earlier) how she learned to make movies. She told me how her brother is into extreme sports and she became the videographer. She then needed to edit the movies so she taught herself iMovie and then Final Cut Express. When I asked who taught her Final Cut, she looked at me, you know the look I am talking about. Uh, no one I taught myself. Exactly my point. I also read a great post from the Electric Educator on flipping your classroom.

Today I got this video link from my director. It shows how Duke is flipping, and I mean flipping.

By the way, if you are interested Jonathan will be the Keynote Speaker at NCAIS INNOVATE 2011 http://ncaisinnovate11.wordpress.com/

The North Carolina Association of Independent Schools Commission on Technology is pleased to announce:

NCAIS INNOVATE 2011: Thursday, April 7th and Friday, April 8th 2011 at Saint Mary’s School (Raleigh, NC)

Keynote Speaker: Jonathan E. Martin, Head of School, St. Gregory School, Tucson, AZ | “Innovative Schools make for Innovative Students”

An independent school head since 1996, Jonathan holds degrees from Harvard University (BA); Starr King School for the Ministry (M.Div., Unitarian ministry); and the University of San Francisco School of Education. He is a member of the board, and Program & Professional Development Chair,  of the Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS). A prolific blogger, Jonathan contributes to his personal blog, http://21k12blog.net/ 21k12 as well as for  http://www.connectedprincipals.com/ Connected Principals and the http://www.thedailyriff.com/ Daily Riff. Jonathan has presented on 21st century learning for the Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Heads, the Arizona Association of Independent Schools (AAIS), and at many Rotary Clubs in Arizona and California.  He has upcoming presentations on 21st century learning at the US Department of Education’s ONPE Annual Private School Leadership Conference and the Annual Conference of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).


Twitter Hash Tags and Professional Learning Communities

While I was at NCAIS2010(hash tag #ncais2010) in Charlotte, NC., Melissa Tredenick was at Independent Schools Association of the Central States (hash tag #isacs10). The power of a hash tag allowed me to follow her posts as Pat Bassett gave his talk in Chicago. I loved her summary of what he had to say about Change. Melissa Tredenick Change I agree with Pat and will continue to move in that direction. Thanks Melissa and others in my PLN.

My Morning at Culbreth Middle School

Today I went back to where I began my teaching career to see how they have developed a strong technology program using iPod touches.

The notes below were typed using Evernote on my iPad. It worked beautifully and I even got to ask an Apple Engineer about how to get Google Docs to work. She assured me she would look into it and let me know. I told her that the lack of Google Docs is my only concern about suggesting this 1.5 pound device become standard for our students.I also met Tony Perez from Atlanta Girls’ School. They will become a 2 to 1 school next year as students will have a MacBook and an iPad.

My rough notes:

Teacher’s got them first – not too much planning or rules as that can stop innovation.
Chorus Class:

Musictheory.net was used to go over the notes study. Had booked marked. Used site as textbook for lesson.

Science class:
Headphones in baggies, 4 iMacs,1ipod cart, overhead, LCD projector with speakers, and 2 teacher MacBooks. One student did not have iPod so had to share headphones. iMacs looked like they were not running OS X but were being used for the Citrix setup. May have been same computers I helped set up. They still use FirstClass. iPods used video on race – gave out directions teachersdomain. Had teacher account.

History class:
mrstaberswiki.pbworks.com students watched video and took notes from teacher handout in notebook.

Math class:
Coin flip for probability app iHandy coin flip game. Chccs.k12.us/culbreth Robert bales

Science class:
Different teacher but used same lesson as other Science Teacher. Watched movie acceleration activities used same http://www.teachersdomain.org/asset/phy03_vid_velocity/

Each teacher had a small sheet of paper with questions and directions. At one point another student noticed a student using his iPod for something other then what he was supposed to be using and said “Vincent is using his iPod with unapproved app”. Public shaming is alive and well.

A Burmese student was using dictionary to translate notes.

Next steps:
Culbrethpodcasting.chccs.k12.us will be used for announcements and other information done by students on iPodsl .All will be done with podcast producer with wikis and blogs.
Classroom20.com is where you can find information on the program.

Other notes:
Started with a beta team and had them work with their students to learn how to use them the best. PD was how to use the device.Val now have 28 wifi stations. 16 carts with 622 iPods. ITunes account for each team. Val gets list of apps from teachers to get. They are added to laptop in the cart. Mobicip is the filter they use. http://www.mobicip.com/ they use premium account.

Conversations happen if issues come up with the report.al has a portable Bretford case for 20 iPods.iPads are coming for use in a sandbox lab. They will have students begin to write apps or other uses. Stuck in the shallow end ….. Book The hope is to get these into the homes of their students.

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Understanding Digital Kids – A Day with Ian Jukes

I was fortunate to hear Ian Jukes speak at http://ncaistech.wikispaces.com/NCAISTECH2009. I have enjoyed listening to Ian and this time I also was able to talk with him after the conference for over an hour as part of NCAIS C.O.T. His handouts are available at his site.

I was very interested in his brain research and how it impacts our students. It is amazing to me that schools are not paying as much attention to this as needed.

He suggests the following remedies:
1. It is time for educators to catch up. I have heard for over 16 years the refrain of “I am just not good with technology”. Truth is you must be better then you think as what aspect of your life has not changed in the last 16 years? Still standing in line to deposit your paycheck or get cash?

2. Teachers Must Teach to the Whole Mind: If you have not read Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind.

Why should I list them here: Get his handout and read it as we all need to Understand Digital Kids. As Ian would say, taking notes while he is speaking is so 20th Century!

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Creating Learning Studios – Live Blog

At NCAIS Tech Conference in a session called Creating Learning Studios with Matt Scully http://pdsblogs.org/mattscully/

He is giving his background and introducing how he is now teaching a Middle School English class and realized that he needed to start over with his thinking and teaching.

Quick Quotes: “What is the point?” – Jonathan Zittrain, “Part of living is working but we need to prepare students for living” – Guy Kawasaski, “Need to create ecosystem for innovation to solves world’s problems” – Thomas Friedman, “Give your works wings; it has to live outside of this classroom, not just die here”, Marco Antonio Torres

The concept of Learning Studio is from Marco Antonio Torres. Matt showed a video done by a student in Marco’s class. It was about a person who could not speak English who ate coffee and donuts until he heard someone order ham and eggs. He wrote it down in his notebook and the next day ordered ham and eggs. I will look for the video although it is a huge metaphor for how we learn and how teachers adopt new tools. If you are happy with a diet of coffee and donuts, you will not be listening when someone orders “ham and eggs”.

There are many authors: Robinson, Pink, Kawasaki, Wagner, Shirky, Gardner, et al, claim that change is needed. This is Matt’s story of how he has attempted to infuse the ideas of these authors.


Education Week: Backers of ’21st-Century Skills’ Take Flak (“There is a reason teachers have been taught for 75 years to do projects with their students and they don’t do them”.

All of his students have blogs
He uses RSS readers to evaluate
He just got a iPhone – showed video of app called Brushes – $4.99

How Tools:
He balances the work time between instruction and Learning Studio time. He has had to scale back on what he thought he would do. He also pledged not to give them busy work if they pledged to not give him any half-baked work from them.

PDS teacher created a Scarlet Letter Ning – all students are in the Ning in character (one for each class and is private so only class members can access)
TKAM (To Kill a Mockingbird) projects – Must explore a theme, must have a plot, must live beyond the classroom, and must include a write up. (Photo journal, Comic Strips, Character Blog, PowerPoint on why it was written, wiki comparing TKAM and Lord of the Rings, News cast that featured and ending with banter by the anchors remembering a book they read in Middle School, many different types of projects. This is where it can get messy.
RSS Reader – iGoogle for checking posts
Shared Online Apps – Google Docs, Revision History for collaborative writing for who did what and a timeline of when.
Personal Learning Network

“Who ever does the work, does the learning!”

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