Learning – Pink Style

I have been working on designing a workshop for teachers this summer that will be using the theme of Daniel Pink’s book:
A Whole New Mind
as the the themes of Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. I think these are very important themes as we must prepare our students for their future and it is not the Information Age but the Creative or Conceptual Age as Daniel Pink discusses.

Working with Mrs. Birgel and her students to create movies illustrating the different Acts and Scenes has affirmed this to me in ways that I had not seen before. The premise of the project was that students drew acts and scenes out of a jar and then went about creating Keynote presentations which were exported to QuickTime movies that were then uploaded into her DAILE Moodle course. Since I am the digital learning coordinator, I got them started and helped along the way as students came up with creative ideas on how best to instruct their classmates. We did expect that there would be text, graphics, audio to illustrate and audio to narrate. All four classes are able to view and watch the movies within the DAILE Moodle course. Of course many students took it upon themselves to create projects that met the bare minimum while others decided writing a song, creating a Flash animation, shooting a video, or creating a theme song for their project. I loved watching the students collaborate and come up with creative solutions while at the same time, teaching their classmates about Romeo and Juliet.

Due to space concerns, I am uploading only Mariah’s song and a Facebook Movie as they are great examples of this “new mind”. Student’s response has been that they would like to record this song with her. Now that is learning in the 21st Century.

Mariah’s Song
Romeo and Juliet – The song

Carlton’s Facebook
Romeo and Juliet – Facebooked!

Two other students also did Facebook style presentations which is interesting since we “block” it at our school. Wonder what would happen if we had our students use it for their learning.

There are other great examples where students took leaps of learning and really created a solid body of work. Next year, Mrs. Birgel can use the best ones to help her students learn Romeo and Juliet. Nice when students help to make content for their classes. What will next years student create? Why resources for other units, of course.

Extended Classroom with Moodle – What Are the Implications for Students?

I am in the process of grading the Computer Competency Exam that all 8th grade students have took the week of March 27, 28, and 29th. They had 3 days to take four sections which meant they needed to use study hall or free time to complete the exam. Over the course of the 3 days, 19 students were absent and 2 were absent the entire 3 days. Since we use Moodle for this and all of my teaching since I do not have a scheduled course with any grade in the Middle School, I am happy to report that once again, Moodle has provided the perfect tool to extend my classroom. The 2 students who were absent all 3 days, are done with all 4 parts without even talking with me. The directions and needed resources were all on Moodle so they simply did it from home. One student who missed over a week of school did it last night and scored a 96 average. She did say it took a long time and yes it did according to her log file. She completed it at 11:36 PM last night from her home computer. This confirms my belief that students need access to the various learning components that Moodle offers as life is messy and learning is not always done in the timeframe we set for it. Students today are connected and learning at different times of the day. As one person who I do not remember said in a podcast, students of today are the We generation.

Artifact of the process:
From 7:59 until 11:37


The conversation we need to be having it how to make sure all courses have this level of access as a basic component of our learning environment. The parallel conversation then is how do we structure our learning time so students are able to manage their time so they do not need to complete work at 11:37 PM as I have a suspicion that students who do this are involved in many more activities then just school. How can Moodle help the student who is involved in sports, travel, health related issues, or other activities/events that demand time? Learning is not just done in a classroom in front of a teacher. Schools and teachers who understand this will employ the tools of Moodle so the information is available and the learning takes place under the banner of “We the learners…..”

Spring break beckons….

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Student Learning Networks and Global Change

Students today are wonderful teachers of teachers when given the opportunity to share what they have learned from their learning network. I was working with a sixth grade class on their podcasting project for History. We were learning how to research using web sites, citing of sources, creating a Keynote slide presentation to use as images for their enhanced podcast, script writing and just getting our assets in order before we actually begin recording. I believe this is how actual “news” organizations broadcast.

I am working with one group and a student named Chess wants to show me something that will help save electricity for all of the computers in the lab. I said, I would be interested in something like that for sure. Blackle is where he took me and told me how we could do little things that can make a big difference. Research I have done does refute some of the claims since CRT and LCD monitors have different energy use, but what I think is amazing is that here are a group of students talking about saving energy by using a different color.

I think this demonstrates the power of a personal learning network and also how students can shift change in their life due to their access to information. I have watched how students in the labs will do vocabulary in order to send grains of rice.

Student Engagement has lower barriers then when I was in school with the tools of today. Durham Academy is a member of iEARN as Tina Bessias travelled to Egypt for last years conference. TakingITGlobal is another student engagement site for global awareness.

The times have changed where student voices could not gather into a force to affect change. I think it is wonderful and look forward to being supported in my senior years by students who were empowered in their youth to affect change.

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My New Favorite Software

My favorite software this week has to be Apple’s Keynote which has been upgraded in iWork ’08 to be a powerful multimedia creation tool. A current project I started on with students since I returned from the NCETC conference is to create book talk podcasts using Keynote instead of Garageband to start the process. We have been having issues with using Garageband ’08 with our networked home directories that students here all use. While we have taken steps to fix that (Portable Home Directories) using Keynote to create slides and then recording the script students wrote makes a fast and wonderful enhanced podcast.

We will send them to Garageband when done recording the podcast to tweak it with additional soundtracks or other elements as well as to apply some ID3 tags so they show up with the correct information. This allows students to illustrate their podcasts with titles and images.

I showed this to Kate Birgel an 8th grade Language Arts teacher who went to work right away creating a Keynote on the book: Of Mice and Men which she will add to her DAILE Moodle course as a resource for students.

I have only begun to design ways to use Keynote to enhance teacher Moodle courses and create content with students. Thanks to Durham Academy for sending me to NCETC and for Neil and Matt for showing me the Send to command.

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Wikis in 5th Grade Language Arts

Jennifer Longee and myself are going to work with Mrs. Parry and Mrs. Doak to have their students create wikis on some Great Depression topics that appear in the book Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Students will work with Mrs. Longee (who constructed the wikis using PBwiki) to research the various topics and begin to work on the wikis. Students will use a research template in order to guide their research.

It is our hope that students will be able to learn more about characters from that time period while also using tools that lend to collaborative and interactive learning since pages will have multiple authors and allow comments by readers. We have password protected the wikis for security reasons as we want only authorized users editing and commenting on the pages.

We will start the work on the 18th of December so follow along as our students create their own Great Depression wiki.

Mrs. Doak’s 5.1 Language Arts

Mrs. Doak’s 5.2 Language Arts

Mrs. Parry’s 5.3 Language Arts

Mrs. Parry’s 5.4 Language Arts

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Technology Task Forces Proposal #3

The 3rd proposal is probably the less stressful of any proposed. It really just supports the continued investment in the tools and classrooms needed to teach in the 21st Century.

21st Century Teaching Infrastructure:
During the summer of 2007, DA began addressing some of the infrastructure needs with the installation of ceiling mounted LCD Projectors, SMARTboards, VOIP phone system and other upgrades to servers, wireless, and network security.

1. Continue outfitting classrooms with the tools of the 21st century: LCD Projectors, sound systems, recording systems and other tools as needed. Funding for curriculum specific needs will be addressed within the Curriculum Enhancement Program (formerly CIP).

2. Increase the network to accommodate present needs and the perceived needs as we bring in student laptops. Power will need to be addressed to insure we have enough places for charging to occur. Bandwidth will need to be increased so no bottlenecks slow down the learning process. In addition, DA should use its purchasing power to work with Internet Service Providers to make sure that all community members have reliable and high speed access to resources.

3. The New Durham Academy Portal must continue to aggregate the information pertinent to the different constituents within Durham Academy. Calendars, files and other resources must be accessed at one location and “pushed” to other areas to eliminate the inefficiency present in the current system.

4. Continued support of classroom digital tools so as teachers reshape their classroom, they can be assured the tools will not disappear due to lack of funding or oversight. While change is persistent with technology, upgrades should take the place of obsolescence due to lack of funding or support.

5. The position of Academic Director of Digital Learning will be added. This person is a curriculum integration specialist and not a technical person who knows how digital instruments work but not how students learn. Each division will also need a Digital Learning Coordinator to facilitate the best practices.

Where will all of this lead Durham Academy? The Technology Task Force believes it will lead us into a student centered and more authentic learning environment. Of course there will be challenges just like there was when the pen was introduced to schools and teachers swore it would be the end of writing as there was no friction.

It is our hope that the tension between teachers who believe in the traditional role of a school will be willing to take a step into the future that we are teaching our students today to prosper within.

Starting From Scratch Presentation

I listened to Ben Wilkoff ‘s presentation at the K12 Online Conference on “Starting From Scratch: Framing Change for All Stakeholders” He does an incredible job of laying out the framework needed to have institutional change happen. If you are at all interested in learning what can be done with the new tools, check out this presentation. It can be downloaded for an iPod, played online or even downloaded with just audio. This is a must listen.

He identifies 6 key components for Authentic Learning
It needs to be:
1. Contextual
2. Connected
3. Collaborative
4. Change-Directed
5. Conversational
6. Continous

A screencast for framing change for students

A podcast on Discourse about Discourse

His blog

His supporting documents are invaluable.

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Student Writing with Moodle

Why do students need to use digital tools or as Alan November calls them, Student Containers. While the conversations are within the “walled garden” of the DAILE Moodle, it is clear to see that students are willing to read books and suggest books to fellow classmates. The following exchange is by sixth grade boys in Mrs. Williamson’s class discussing books to read. The topic of the post was the book Bud Not Buddy
Bud Not Buddy
by Tom G. – Monday, 8 October 2007, 04:39 PM
I am reading “Bud Not Buddy.” It is a great book and I can’t wait to finish it. If you started to read it you would enjoy immensly.

Re: Bud Not Buddy
by Cameron E. – Monday, 8 October 2007, 08:48 PM
Whats it about?
Re: Bud Not Buddy
by Ryan P. – Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 07:57 PM
I read it, it’s really good

Re: Bud Not Buddy
by Tom G. – Thursday, 18 October 2007, 09:37 AM
Bud Not Buddy is about a boy who is in an orphanage and he is going to find his father. Or who he thinks is his father
Re: Bud Not Buddy
by Trey H. – Thursday, 18 October 2007, 09:39 AM
are the chapters really long and if so are they easy to get through
Re: Bud Not Buddy
by Tom G. – Thursday, 18 October 2007, 09:41 AM
Some chapters are long but is a book you won’t want to put down. It is a newbery award

Mrs. Williamson’s thoughts: “The writing isn’t perfect. The editing isn’t perfect. But they are discussing literature! They are sharing information about a book they enjoyed. It got them writing…and about literature! I have rules about posting in a forum, and it all has to be school appropriate, or they will lose moodle privileges for a week. I have not had anyone violate this rule as of yet. SO COOL!”

I think this is how we fill student containers with appropriate content and uses instead of banning the containers.

If I gave an 8th grader a GPS?

I gave Nat G. the Garmin GPSmap 60CS to take on the coastal trip. I asked him to set some way points and see if he could collect as much data as possible. Actually, I gave it to Dr. Ward who gave it to Nat. I included a 150 page manual which I am sure was useful as a seat cushion for the long trip to the beach. What I got back was an incredible log of the trip as he set waypoints when they stopped at a rest area, Food Lion, as well as when they were driving, eating, and each activity that they did for the week. It is an awesome digital diary of the exact location on earth on what they did and when they did it. Here are some screen shots, although if you want to download the CoastalTrip_07 .kml file, you can open Google Earth and then use File – Open to travel the route yourself. Leaving DA

Here is a shot of where they lived and learned for the week.
Trinity Center and Carrot Island

The Rachel Carson Preserve on Carrot Island is a culmination of the trip. See where they saw the horses and where they went swimming.
Rachel Carson Preserve

So, if I gave an 8th grader a GPS means I will connect them to their learning in ways that only enhance the learning they receive by walking the walk, wading in water, and sighting a horse. Of course, now we have data as to where the horses were this year. Is this the normal location? Will next years group find them in the same place? How much do they move in a year? Where are you in relationship to the horses? As more and more devices have GPS, what will we use the data for, or will we use the data?