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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Free Content + Open Tools + Massive Collaboration = Learning For All

Karen Fasimpaur from K12 Handhelds

Karen did a great job presenting the plethora of tools and options that are available in the open area.

Open Educational Resources can help us reshape education by providing free high quality resources”.

K12 Open Ed

Workshop Notes




Creative Commons Mixter

MusOpen – Classical

Wikimedia Commons Music

Spoken Wikipedia

Freesound Project

Internet Archive


Open Photo


Educational Content
Wikibooks and Wikijunior




MIT OpenCourseware

Wikipedia for Schools

Audio Books and eBooks

Spoken Alexandria Project

Project Gutenberg



More Options
SchoolForge – all school related software including SIS

SourceForge – all areas

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Our Students – Our Worlds (Live Blog)

David Warlick is presenting this session on what our students face in the flat classroom world of today.

Link to Presentation:

If the world is flat what is the impact to our students?

Future Tech:
Wearable computer MIT
Toe Ring GPS Units and Cell Phone with a thumb and pinky finger unit

Richard Florida The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class.

Read the notes in the handouts as it will wake you up.

We must tell the story of how the world is gearing up for broadband Mexico in 2012

Cool Web 2.0 Stuff:
Digg Labs


Wikipedia – they do warn users that the information may not be accurate, etc.. Have students verify the information is correct and to prove the authority is correct and not just accept it as fact.

Wikipedia Junior Books “The aim of this project is to produce age-appropriate non-fiction books for children from birth to age 12.”

Wikispecies “Wikispecies is an open, free directory of species. It covers Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea, Protista and all other forms of life. So far we have 113,854 articles.”

There are no roads to follow like the past but students needs wings to.

An example of how the world has changed is seen at We Are Not Afraid which was set up after the train bombings.

Just the Facts:

It is Not Just Literacy but….

Learning Literacy

Not just skills…..

But habits

Not just lifelong – learning…..

But learning lifestyle

We need to prepare students for a future of opportunity.

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Alan November (Live Blog)

I am excited to hear Alan talk today about “Banning Student Containers” as he inspired me to change the title of what I do. I am no longer the technology coordinator as it was too limiting. There is no pencil and paper coordinator. It was freeing to me as I am no longer “that computer guy” but a critical component of the learning environment. Thanks Alan and I will keep spreading the word.

Communist China allow students to use more of the tools that we block in US schools.
His son uses: video games, skype, chat, etc..

We should be paying attention to what technology students use when not in school. If students had discovered paper before teachers in the past, we would have banned paper like we ban other student containers.

The best schools are the schools that place ownership of the curriculum with the students.
There are no barriers to any of this!! Fear and imagination are the barriers.
In the past children were vital to the survival of the family. Food and feed for animals were needed to sustain the family unit. Now there is nothing like that as they have school work and some chores. Now there is no connection to the survival of the family which impacts students.

Our culture gives the power of learning to teachers and administrators. A cultural change is what is needed.

The work of a few dedicated students need to create content can change the classroom.


Digital Learning Farm where the students are essential to the learning community. All teams work as connected elements.
6 jobs at the new DLF
1. Tutorial Design Team: Screencastomatic – Homework will contribute to the good of the whole and not just one. What are we learning next week? What a great question from a student? Who benefits the most? How will other students react?
2. Curricular Review Team – Review Last Weeks Lessons and create podcasts that support it. Students must have the rigor and expertise to create content that is double-checked, organized, and streamed for all students.
3. Daily Researcher – Student gets the answers for the class [(Critical Thinking Team for Rigorous Research
4. Global Communication and Research Team – get primary documents to support a global debate. Go global with a podcast that will be shared via a debate with a school elsewhere. Expand the discourse exposure. Why did the Americans Revolt (England View)
5. Daily Blogger/Scribe to record the days notes. What happens when you take away the fear of students needing to take notes?
Part 2 Building a Learning Community Tools: Skype and Blogs
Finding teachers to connect with is as easy as using ePals. The problem is how to make a sense of the connection you create.

Onetime events are easier to build then are long term events (New York City Poets and South Bronx student reciting a poem she wrote)

Consider how every family is a center of learning. All families must be part of the community.

Each student if not families should have a blog as part of the learning community.

Writing for a college blue book. Present your writing to the world looking for feedback from around the world. The Clem

Students write online at

Each students blog need to feed to teachers blog or course.

How to work with administrators: Ask what they want to improve? Technology is not part of the questions.
Change agents are to identify what is important in the culture of your school.
Independent schools are often geared towards improving the AP scores so you raise the scores even higher.

Use Skype to connect to the world in elementary school. Have books read by grandparents using Skype and record it. Make a CD of the stories.

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The New Office 2008 for Macintosh

Coming to a Macintosh in February 2008. Microsoft is introducing an entire new version of its Office Suite.

This will be a huge upgrade in not only features but look and feel. In fact it reminds me of Pages which is part of the iWork ’08 suite. Very template driven and loaded with drag and drop. I hope it plays well with network home directories as that is what we use here at school.

Microsoft Office For Mac 2008

Stay tuned.

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.

Technology Task Forces Proposal #2

I attended the first and second session of Ed Costello’s 4 sessions he will be having where he alerts the faculty to possible action items coming out of the years work that our Technology Task Force did in concert with the Technology Advisory Committees study of laptop programs around the country. I think our group worked well and was well served by Liz Coleman and Sheppy Vann’s leadership.

I thought I would blog about our proposals that will be put out for a vote in April of 2008.

Proposal 2: Set expectations and provide ample professional development opportunities and support

Training in the past has centered on using software with the hope that as teachers learned software they would bring it into their classroom. This method worked some of the time if the teacher had the time and inclination to take on creating a project using the software skills they had learned. Karen Lizska did this with her use of iMovie and her Spanish classes. I am sad to say that the overall training method has been a failure if we measure it on how much more technology is used by our teachers. Too many times we used the “Just in Case” method of training in that here is how you use Microsoft Word just in case someday you will need to use it. Excel was a program I taught this way to faculty members. If any learner does not use the skills they have learned they will quickly erode. Is that not why teachers have students do homework after new skills are taught – practice and use leads to a deeper understanding.

The methods for delivery at Durham Academy have ranged from Wired Wednesdays, Saturday Academy, Technology Mentors, GoLive Gurus, Vendor Delivered, and release time for teachers to work on lessons using the technology.

Our proposal will include something like the following. This is very FLUID so nothing is written in stone, so to speak.

Professional Development:
Teachers need to be supported with professional development that addresses best teaching strategies within the new learning environment. This training will be started in the year before students get their laptops and will include both in house and outside experts.
Divisions will coordinate the professional development they desire from outside vendors and in house integration specialists. Themes to address are reshaping curriculum using digital tools, enhancing curriculum by introducing an Interactive Learning Environment, and new strategies for teaching today’s student.
The professional development curriculum starts with attendance at three separate sessions covering the basic digital building blocks. This would occur during the summer in 3 to 4 day sessions in each area. By the beginning of school faculty would need to have their virtual learning environment established and populated with digital content. They would also need to have mapped their content delivery for the year using e-textbooks or on-line digital resources.
Once they have completed the basics, development would continue with 1-day training sessions each month. The training would focus on applications specific to their division. In the second year training would take place 3 times a year in daylong sessions. Release time will be given. Every 5 years the faculty person would need to attend a week-long summer immersion session to gain exposure to new applications and methods of using digital content. Technology use will be assessed as part of the overall professional evaluation process.
It is also recommended that technology aptitude be a condition of hiring new faculty. New hires must demonstrate experience using digital content in the classroom. This could be assessed during the hiring process by reviewing a digital portfolio of classroom content created by the prospective new hire.
Much like the new Real-time Learning page on our web site, we need to promote the new modes of teaching that colleagues do each day. A DA Technology Showcase should take place once a year so fellow teachers can see what colleagues are doing in their classrooms. This will aid in developing a mentor relationship between colleagues who are otherwise prone not to know about a technique or strategy.

South Florida University Lit2Go

iTunes U is growing by leaps and bounds. MacWorld did an article in October called iPod Study Buddy. I have already written about Raybook and how I think they can help to create content for the small screen. iTunes U is mostly thought of as higher education but that is changing. Janice Adams from Apple told me about how the University of South Florida’s College of Education has recorded and made available Literature to Go for students and teachers across the world to use.

To get there, Open iTunes – Click on iTunes Store – Look for University of South Florida – College of Education on iTunes. You will then see Lit2Go as well as many other resources. The stories are listed by grade level. What a great assignment for students to load up their iPod with Literature!


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Constitution Class

Adam Curry was discussing the need to know more about the Constitution as we get closer to the election. Would this video be helpful to all students no matter if they could not vote? Michael Badnarik was a candidate for President in 2004 under the Libertarian Party Banner. His Constitution Class is needed knowledge for all Americans.

While I am not endorsing a particular political ideal, I do think the video can be useful for learning.

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