BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

March 11, 2018
by blogwalker
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Your Digital Footprint – Lunch with George Couros

K-12 teachers – use four words for every kid every time they write: write, categorize, tag, publish.” George Couros

Last week was my first time to attend the California League of Schools (CLS) Annual Conference – and I’m so glad I did! The highlight of this 3-day conference was joining George Couros’ lunchtime session Your Digital Footprint. Below is the session description:

We all have a digital footprint, as do our schools and organizations. “Googling” ourselves makes this apparent, whether or not we had a say in what shows up about us online. As individuals and as schools, what can we do to actually shape this footprint? With open sharing of our learning, a digital footprint can easily be developed for either an individual, school or organization. This is not about branding as much as it is about modeling for our students that we are learners along with them.”

As a director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I’ve been concerned about our seniors graduating and heading on to career or college pursuits without a digital portfolio. For the past 10 years, Kathleen Watt, my #digcit program co-director, and I have been offering workshops to help teachers support their students in creating and curating K-12 digital portfolios. We recommend blogs as the best venue for students to begin an ongoing process of documenting their learning journeys. So it felt like a pat on the back to hear George make the same recommendation.

There’s a reason @GCouros has 212K followers!

George also pointed out that not only do students need to have portfolios – so do teachers. He then reiterated that the best ePortfolio students and teachers can have is a blog … Oh, wow, why had I never made this personal connection before?!?

A blog is a portfolio.”

This quote was my biggest takeaway from the lunch session and conference.

George’s stance that “teachers need to create portfolios using the same platform they are pushing” was also validating. Years ago, we purchased Edublogs Campus Press for district-wide access. Outside of my district job, Blogwalker has been my personal space for reflecting on new ideas and resources, documenting conferences and workshops attended, and showcasing the work of colleagues and leaders who inspire and add to my teaching toolkit. But until this session with George, I had not thought of this blog as a portfolio.

I left the conference re-energized and committed to adding another round of blogs and blogging back into my workshop offerings, using Google apps (and VoiceThreads, podcasts, video creation, etc.) to create, collaborate on, and curate content that will ultimately be housed on a blog.

Over the years, I have cut back on my blogging workshops because, too often, I see teacher-created blogs used simply as a venue for posting homework. I suggest, instead, using a Google Site rather than underutilizing a blog. So, yes, I will continue to recommend that teachers post homework on a G Site – but with the strong recommendation that they to tap into all that a blog offers for maintaining a personal ePortfolio!

Tomorrow marks the 12th anniversay of my first blog post (in which I thank Edublogs … and reference MySpace). I see I left my first-ever comment:

Hi, this is a comment.
To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.”

Since 2008, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in, learning from, and contributing to a number of amazing communities (Google Teacher Academy, Microsoft Innovative Educators, Rushton Hurley’s MERIT program, CSU Sacramento’s iMET program, UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Teaching for Social Justice, and more). I think I’ve always attributed acceptance into these programs to luck and maybe a good recommendation or two.

I realize now that everytime I apply for a local or national program, I’m asked to include my Twitter handle (@GailDesler) and social media links, such as a blog. I’m wondering how many review committees have visited Blogwalker before sending their “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted” letter. When those committees have to make cuts to their lists of applicants, are educators with personal blogs/ePorfolios given priority over those without?

I would love to hear from fellow bloggers why you blog and what benefits you have experienced. I warmly invite you to leave a comment.

And if you need a little inspiration and motivation to start blogging, subscribe to George’s The Principal of Change blog!

April 11, 2010
by blogwalker
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A Tuskegee Airman Remembers – An interview with George Porter

I have a message on my cell phone  I will never delete.  It’s the voice of Tuskegee Airman George Porter letting me know that he’d be very happy to meet with students in Martin Billings’ 11th grade US History class and share his experiences as a Tuskegee Airman.

Formed in 1942 amid controversy, the Tuskegee Airmen  showed the nation its black citizens were equal in skill and patriotism to their white counterparts. Although George Porter was never a pilot (due to a health issues with high altitudes), he joined the Tuskegee team as a mechanic.

I met George a year ago, when he came to Mr. Billing’s class to join the keynote presenter Alexander Jefferson for a 3-way interactive videoconference. A Google search will bring up a long list of links for both these former Tuskegee Airmen. For an introduction to George, I particularly like the four-minute 2007 New Orleans Times-Picayune interview posted below.

Before, during, and after World World II, George Porter’s story is one of remarkable resiliency and a determination “to be the best you can be…to be even better than your best.” During the 40-minute visit to Mr. Billing’s class (below), George explains racism, segregation, and living through Jim Crow times, which he refused to be defeated by.

This March 2010 presentation and response to students’ questions will provide you with an understanding of George Porter’s commitment to making sure the public, especially young people, understand how eager and willing he and other African Americans were to fight for America, despite a nation’s long running record of treating them as second-class citizens.

I hope you will share George Porter’s story with your colleagues and students. He does not want this chapter of our nation’s history to be forgotten.

January 3, 2019
by blogwalker
10 Comments

Why I Blog

Come March 2019, BlogWalker turns 13. I’ve loved being part of the Edublogs’ global community, a vibrant, ongoing source of inspiration and learning. I have experienced first-hand the unlimited possibilities and benefits blogging offers for being an active, contributing digital citizen.

I was blogging before Twitter came into my life. Through an RSS feed, I received alerts when my favorite bloggers (i.e., Kevin Hodgson, Bud Hunt, Troy Hicks, Will Richardson, Monica Edinger, Joyce Valenza, and more) posted a new piece. At some point, Twitter replaced my RSS feed, so today it will likely be a Tweet that directs me to a post from Kevin, Bud, Troy, Will, Monica, and/or Joyce.

In 2006, it was important to me that others were reading my blog. While I still very much enjoy having a reader drop by BlogWalker and leave a comment, today Twitter is where I mainly connect and interact with other like-minded educators. But blogging still serves an increasingly essential role in my learning journey. BlogWalker is where I document and reflect on my learning. It’s my digital file cabinet. I love that I can put ISTE or CUE in my search bar, for instance, and read through sessions I attended and favorite takeaways going back over 10 years. Eight years ago, I had no idea how many other teachers would appreciate that I shared resources and strategies for passing the CTEL test. And my 2016 trip to Rwanda – love that Carl Wilkens has used that post as a window into what educators will experience on his life-changing tours.

When I do blogging workshops for my district, I introduce Edublogs as a tool for both teachers and students. I am passionate about every student graduating with a positive digital footprint and an ePortfolio. I love George Couros’ strong recommendation for students to use Google as their working portfolios, which they regularly curate, selecting pieces for their professional ePortfolios/blogs. He too loves the flexibility of CampusPress/Edublogs, which allow students to upload/embed multiple platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), practice their digital citizenship skills (respectfully commenting, respecting intellectual property, etc.) and take their blogs with them – beyond graduation.

Poster from the awesome Edublogger Kathleen Morris – http://www.kathleenamorris.com/blogging/

 

Blogs are a simple, yet powerful, way for students to reach “redefinition” on the SAMR ladder, taking student voice beyond the confines of the classroom and providing an authentic, potentially global audience.

My 2019 resolution is to continue to promote and support blogging through offering workshops and participating in PLN-building opportunities such as the January Blogger’s Challenge. I hope you’ll join me!

February 19, 2018
by blogwalker
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Two Reasons Why Teaching about Copyright Just Got Easier

“Great leaders give credit.” George Couros

If you consider teaching students about their intellectual property rights and responsibilities an essential component of a digital citizenship program, I’m with you. So thanks to a recent change by Google and a new Google Docs Add-On by teacher Brandon Dorman, we have two great items to spark discussions on copyright.

Item #1 – Google’s removal of the View Image button from image searches – Yes, there has been some public pushback over losing a super-fast way to view and copy an image. Personally, I am glad for the change since image searchers will now use the Visit Site button to view the actual hosting site for images. Although the Visit Site button was always there, image searchers could ignore it.

If you are not yet familiar with the Visit Site button, it is from the host site that you will find out exactly how the creator would like you to respect and/or attribute his/her work through Creative Commons licensing (see the video below for a Creative Commons introduction).

For those opposed to visiting the host site and viewing the creator’s licensing, there are already a number of workarounds available. I hope the workarounds do not deter image searchers from giving proper attribution to those who are freely sharing their creative work.

Item #2 – Former 7-12 math teacher’s Creative Commons Google Doc Add-On – The best way to bring students on board with respect for intellectual property is to have them create and share their own work. So I was delighted to learn about Brandon Dorman’s Creative Commons Google Doc Add-On, which makes choosing and adding CC licensing to a Google Doc a snap.

What would make this Add-On even better? I’d love it if it were included in the Google Docs Tools dropdown menu rather than as an Add-On. Due to the agree-to components of 3rd party Add-Ons (which legally equate to a contract), my district blocks student access to Add-Ons and extensions.

At this point, though, for students 13+, I would certainly encourage them to add Brandon’s Creative Commons licensing option to their personal Google accounts.

Note to Self: Need to head to Can I Use That? A Guide to Creative Commons and accompanying hyperdoc lesson and make updates to reflect the above items.

Image of Palm Springs Convention Center -from CUE.org website.

March 23, 2017
by blogwalker
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#CUE17 – A few takeaways

Just returned from CUE 2017, three jam-packed days of sharing, collaborating, learning, rethinking, and celebrating in the beautiful California desert setting of Palm Springs.

CUE 2017 image

For those of you #NotAtCUE17, here are my top takeaways:

Keynote Speakers – Oh my!

Lucky me! I was able to attend all three:

Jo Boaler: The Mindset Revolution – A shout out to CUE for having Dr. Jo Boaler as the kick-off keynote. A visit to her youcubed website will give you an idea of Jo’s commitment to moving students – and teachers – past a “fixed mindset” of “I’m not good at math” to “offering mathematics as a growth subject, filled with opportunities for creativity, discussions, and multiple perspectives.”

I’ve heard the term “growth mindset” before, but hearing Jo Boaler present research-based findings on its importance had me leaving the keynote wanting to learn more. This snippet from her recent Scientific American article, Why Math Doesn’t Add Up in the U.S., will give you a window into her findings:

Brain research has elucidated another practice that keeps many children from succeeding in math. Most mathematics classrooms in the U.S. equate skill with speed, valuing fast recall and testing even the youngest children against the clock. But studies show that kids manipulate math facts in their working memory—an area of the brain that can go off-line when they experience stress. Timed tests impair working memory in students of all backgrounds and achievement levels, and they contribute to math anxiety, especially among girls. By some estimates, as many as a third of all students, starting as young as age five, suffer from math anxiety.”

I recommend spending the next 16 minutes watching CUE Live’s interview with Jo and then head to her youcubed site:

A few quotes from Jo Boaler:

“Let’s get rid of speed math…Speed does not equate to intelligence or better math understanding.”

“Parents should know that nobody is born a math person – and should never give that message to their kids.”

George Couros: The Innovator’s Mindset – If you’re not already following George Couros on Twitter, you should be. As a long-time follower and fan of George Couros, AKA Principal of Change, I already knew his keynote would be a great takeaway (although I didn’t know it would a good idea to have Kleenex available, as he regularly interjected short but powerful, often emotional, video clips to illustrate his points). His  fast-moving, highly engaging keynote included 8 Characteristics of an Innovator’s Mindset, which the wonderful Sylvia Duckworth has put into an infographic:

Inforgraphic from Sylvia Duckworth to show the 8 characteristics of an innovator's mindset.

Moving from a “fixed mindset” to an “innovator’s mindset” requires embracing change, learning from failures, and being OK with the fact that implementing change will probably require all 8 of the above characteristics. So, yes, you may have to explain to colleagues that “if you ask when you’ll find the time, you’re already giving up.”

George also posed a question on school vs. learning, and shared an infographic with common differences between the two:

Infographic by Sylvia Duckworth to illustrate George Couro's school vs. learning.

About those video clips I mentioned that George injected throughout the presentation to bring home every point … he’s posted them to his website. These are gems to include in your growth/innovator’s mindset toolkit.

A few favorite quotes from this inspiring keynote:

“The best person to teach students about space is not you; it’s an astronaut.” – One more argument for opening classroom walls via videoconferencing!

“Social media is like water. You can either let us drown, or teach us to swim.” – Will share this one with district-level administrators.

“We need to make the positive so loud that the negative is hardly heard.” – Don’t shut down learning sites/sources because of misuse by a few students.”

“The biggest game changer in education is not the technology; it’s the teacher.” – Will remind curriculum adoption folks about this sometimes forgotten fact.

Cathy Hunt: The Art and Soul of Education – How fun to end the #CUE17 Conference with a  national (Australian) and international award-winning (tons!) art instructor. Don’t think you can do art? Head to Cathy Hunt’s website and get ready for another “growth mindset.”

Photo from @susiew

Loved the lessons she demoed, especially Picasso’s Portrait pieces, which starts with students taking selfies (which we all know students love to do) and then layering pieces of a Picasso painting over their selfies (which definitely qualifies as transformative use if you are wondering/worrying about fair use issues).

My favorite quotes from Cathy Hunt:

 “If you want to increase divergent thinking in your classroom, make some art.”

 “To make, to create is to be fully human.”


Some Great Session Takeaways

Mark Ray: Future Ready Is Greater Than Digital – Scroll through Mark Ray’s presentation and you’ll be ready to start the Future Ready conversations at your site/district on Monday. In addition to serving as Director of Innovation and Library Services for the Vancouver (Washington) School District, Mark is also working for the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., with a focus on the Future Ready Librarians initiative, part of  “a national effort to connect school libraries and librarians to innovative instructional practices.” The graphic below includes the eight categories/gears of the Future Ready Framework through a librarian’s lens.

image for future-ready librarians

Knowing from a first-hand perspective the vital role librarians play at their school sites, I love that the Future Ready initiative is tapping into their expertise.

Mark introduced four important shifts required to truly be future ready:

  1. Ownership – from teacher to student. Students need to have personalized learning paths.
  2. Consumer to Creator – In the old days, somebody else wrote the textbook. Today students and teachers should be designing and creating products.
  3. Local to global – Students need authentic opportunities to connect with other students, even if it’s just the school down the road.
  4. Shift from fixed to mobile – Let’s recognize that students carry learning opportunities in their pockets.

Mark’s tip for making the shift happen: Start by putting together a Future Ready Admin team.

Mark Archon: Student Data Privacy – What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You – If you are a teacher who is frustrated by (the many) websites your district blocks, read through Mark Archon’s presentation and you will have a window into your tech administrator’s world. If you are an administrator wishing you had a presentation at your fingertips to explain student data privacy concerns and laws to teachers, Mark Archon just gave you a timely gift.

Since the passage of California’s AB 1584, a bit of my day (as a technology integration specialist) typically goes to tracking down vendors to have them sign my district’s legal document before I can approve software purchase requests. So I was very excited to learn that CETPA, in collaboration with the Ventura County Office of Education, is going to make the software approval process much easier by compiling a listing of AB 1584 compliant software on their Student Data Privacy Alliance page. Yay! 

CETPA, the law offices of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, and Common Sense Media have collaborated on a short video, Ask Before You App, to give you a few tips on how to responsibly evaluate and use educational apps.

My favorite quote from Mark’s session comes from the Future of Privacy Forum:

Anyone who handles data should know how to protect that data. Human error is a factor in 95% of data security incidents.” 

I also liked his much needed reminder that, in terms of online programs:

Nothing is free. The currency is you.”

Mark Ray: Compliance to Self-Reliance –  Rebooting Digital Citizenship – Mark jumped right into the topic by asking: “Are you and I hypocrites when it comes to digital citizenship and digital behavior?” He followed up his question with a link to a self-assessment quiz. I do a lot of digital citizenship workshops, which from now on will start with “an adult digital user quiz.” As Mark’s session made clear: How can we teach digital citizenship if we don’t model it ourselves?

slide from Mark Ray's Rebooting Digital Citizenship #cue17 presentation

 

Sabrina Goldstein, Sam Castellano, Darlene Moreno: Crack the Code: Connect Scratch to Your Language Arts Classroom – This talented team of elementary teachers did a great job of introducing MIT’s Scratch program, sharing compelling examples of student work, and bringing the audience on board by having them create their own Scratch animations. I also learned a new term: “kinetic storytelling,” which is storytelling that incorporates timing, color, location, transitions, and font. This short video will show you what kinetic storytelling looks like:

For our elementary students, Scratch offers multiple ways, for instance, for students “to demonstrate knowledge of figurative language and promote creativity and critical thinking skills through the use of backgrounds and coding commands.”  Check out this elementary sample on figurative language to get you thinking about how Scratch can take language arts lessons to new levels.

Gail Desler and Jane Lofton: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons – This is the third time I’ve had the privilege of co-presenting with Jane Lofton.

Photo of Jane Lofton and Gail Desler just getting started on their CUE17 presentation.

We were fortunate to have a wonderful group of teachers joining us early Saturday morning for this session, many who remained afterwards to ask questions sparked by the presentation. If you were #NotAtCUE17 or not in our session, here’s a link to our digital handout: bit.ly/UnlockMediaLiteracy. And if you’re looking for a hyperdoc lesson on copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons to use on Monday, here it is:

With over 6,000 educators in attendance, it is hard to imagine the amount of planning that must go into a CUE Conference. I’d like to thank the ever-amazing Mike Lawrence and his incredible team for three-days worth of inspiring/energizing “future ready” learning experiences, perspectives, tips, resources, and conversations.

I’m already looking forward to #CUE18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Coming to America Featured Image

January 7, 2017
by blogwalker
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On Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings

We are a nation of immigrants.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.

The greatest gift we can give someone is the gift of their history.” HmongStory40

Yes, we are a nation of immigrants. I am fortunate to work in a school district that is yearly enriched by its history of cultural diversity. Last year, in recognition and celebration of the experiences, challenges, and contributions of those who have come to America, I collaborated on the Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings Lesson and Teacher’s Guide. This year, I am adding another resource: On Coming to America Hyperdoc.*

Both these online lessons are invitations to your students to interview, document, and publish the story of an immigrant or refugee, with a shared goal of:

  • Introducing students to the differences between an “immigrant” and a “refugee”
  • Providing a collection of primary source interviews (videos) with recent refugees
  • Providing guidelines for students to step into the role of oral historians by conducting an interview
  • Encouraging students to publish their Small Moments, Big Meanings projects to an authentic audience via several online options.

On Coming to America Hyperdoc Lesson Graphic

I have posted before about the Time of Remembrance Project’s recently added Student Gallery. The Student Gallery is one of the suggested publishing venues for On Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings, especially via the hyperdoc.

How about your school or district? Have your students had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and do the work of an oral historian? If not, I can promise that in the process of interviewing an immigrant or refugee, they will discover what I have learned: history happens one story at a time. It would be an honor to showcase your students’ On Coming to America projects.

Questions? Suggestions? Please leave a comment. Let the conversations begin!

*Note: The term “hyperdoc” stems from the ever-amazing Lisa Highfill’s commitment to use tools (such as Google Docs/Slides/Sheets) to create lessons with access to “instructions, links, tasks… to get kids thinking.”

June 28, 2013
by blogwalker
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ISTE 2013 Takeaways – Day 2

ISTE 2013 Day 2

Session 1

“Inquiry is the personal path of questioning, investigating, and reasoning that takes us from not knowing to knowing” Suzie Boss

Signposts to Better Projects: How to take thinking deeper in digital age PBLSuzie Boss and Mike Gwaltney’s session was one of the first entries on my conference planner as a “must see” session! Suzie has already posted the session slideshow (below).

And my takeaways:

1.Set stage for inquiry – Example: Prior to announcing a new project, place banners and posters outside and inside the school as “grabbers.”

2. Create a culture of collaboration – Example: Make the world safe for thinking – the marshmallow challenge (TED talk) – http://marshmallowchallenge.com/TED_Talk.html – will get you thinking about safe environments for learning.

3. Invite feedback – Example: Use class blog to create feedback loop. Consider joining a collaborative blogging community such as Quadblogging.

4. Think about thinking – provide some deliberate ways for kids to think about their thinking, to develop thinking routines. Think/Pair/Share, for example, is a quick way to collect thoughts, put them out, and get some response.   Use Google Docs to promote reflection, using targeted questions (how’s this assignment compare to another project). Have students create videos as formative assessment. For more ideas on helping students develop a “thinking routine,” check out Peter Pappas’ A Taxonomy of Reflection and Project Zero: Thinking Routines.

5. Think as experts do – How do you encourage thinking as experts do? Put kids in the role off experts. Show Thinking like a Historian chart. What are the ways that people think in your discipline. Kids need academic vocabulary of the discipline. “It’s relatively unnatural for a young person to be interested in the past – they haven’t lived long enough.” Use current events. Checkout George Mayo’s Transitions project. His students had to think like illustrators for project; therefore, George brought in a husband and wife team.

6. Watch for spirals (project creates more energy) – what’s the opportunity.  Is it worth taking project further.

Student filmmakers

Student filmmakers

Checkout Ghost Jacket from Lost & Found Films – a project that transitioned from cleaning up a mess at a school site to sending jackets to those who needed them.  And, of course, what better example of a spiral could Suzie use than Jim Bentley’s student film academy’s award-winning documentary (a continuing/spiraling project) on hazardous waste: Recharging Our World (very proud of my inspiring district colleague and his incredible students:-).

Mike Gwaltney's PBL rubric

Mike Gwaltney’s PBL rubric

7. Assessment: Think about assessment throughout the project, formative not just summative. Grading on process across categories vs. a single grade on final project/product …. Oh my, this is brilliant!!! Mike Gwaltney has created PBL skills “hit the bull’s eye” sort of a rubric – for formative and self assessment to “get students thinking about their own learning.”

And a few more books to add to my summer reading list, per Mike Gwaltney’s recommendations: Teaching with Your Mouth Shut (David Finkel) and Understanding by Design (by Grant Wiggins). If you have not already read Suzie’s Reinventing Project-Based Learning,  this is a great starting point for your PBL journey, as well as the Buck Foundation’s PBL website.

 

Session 2

Design Your Digital Tattoo – Helping Students Design Their Digital ImageAdina Sullivan pointed out what should be obvious to all of us who teach, model, and promote digital citizenship: the term “digital footprint” should be replaced with “digital tattoo.”  Having watched my son, a few years back, go through the process of tattoo removal, I can second Adina’s perspective that it’s a difficult process, requiring numerous (painful) sessions, and that the tattoo is never fully eliminated. Tattoos are a much more accurate symbol of our online personas than footprints – especially the footprints in the sand images.

Takeaways:

  • Digital Tattoo – What’s Yours – Although I was familiar with this site, having posted several of their videos to the Digital ID Building Identities page, I hadn’t noticed the resources posted to the home page for tracking your “tattoo.” I really like having additional sites beyond Google:
    • Search yourself. Use pipl.com to find out what comes up about you. Try spezify for a visual representation of your identity or (more importantly) how the internet sees you.
    • Consider your tattoo. Your Digital Dossier demonstrates how identity is formed online. Be Findable is an example of how your online identity can help you.”

Great job, Adina!

Session 3

Mashup and Remix: Reading, Writing, Research, and Reaching the World – I arrived late to this session (got side tracked walking through the display tables), so I missed Bill Bass’s part of the presentation.  With only a 1/2 hour remaining, I wondered how my NWP/NCTE colleague and friend Sandy Hayes could possibly make a case for fair use in that time limit.  She did! Here’s a link to the PDF with many of the links from the slideshow.  As soon as Sandy posts the link to the slideshow, I add it to this post.  Another great presentation from Sandy!

February 5, 2012
by blogwalker
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Fighting for the Right to Fight – Resources for ‘Red Tails’

Thanks to George Lucas’s release of Red Tails, the story of WWII’s Tuskegee Airmen, students and teachers have a wonderful new resource for celebrating African-American History Month.

I know a Tuskegee Airman. His name is Alexander Jefferson. I met him 4 years ago at the Denver Airport. He was on the same flight from Sacramento to Denver. I spotted him at the baggage pickup zone.

It probably seemed like an idiotic question, but seeing an African-American gentleman wearing a Tuskegee Airman jacket, I had to ask, “Pardon me, but were you a Tuskegee Airman?”  He was actually on his way to present to students in one of Denver’s public schools (saw his picture a day later in the Denver Times as he stood surrounded by young students). Our 10-minute conversation was absolutely the most worthwhile time I have ever spent waiting for my luggage.

Alex was one of 32 Tuskegee Airman to be shot down over Germany, and the only one to have written about the African-American experience behind barbed wired in a German prison camp: Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free. From NPR’s recent interview, you can get an idea of his energy, his resiliency, and his commitment to fighting for social justice.

One month after meeting Alex, thanks to the coordinating efforts of  Janine Lim and our Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), we were able to record Alexander Jefferson as he connected from Michigan with students at two Elk Grove school sites (Ed Harris Middle School and Monterey Trail High School) – bringing a “living voice” into their U.S. History class discussions:

With the opening of “Red Tails,” I thought teachers might be looking for a range of primary sources to frontload the historical context of the film – and to ignite a passion for learning more about the Tuskegee Airmen and our nation’s pre-Civil Rights era. Here is a starting list:

 

  • Tuskegee Airmen – A Proud Heritage – A teacher’s guide from the Museum of Aviation.
  • From Tuskegee to Jim Crow – An interview with Sacramento’s George Porter, a mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen – recorded during a Civil Rights discussion in high school history teacher Martin Billings’ classroom.
  • Red Tails Trailer – According to YouTube descriptor, this is the official George Lucas trailer.

I’ll be adding to the list throughout the month, so if you have any resources to share or activities you’ll be doing to commemorate the challenges and accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, please jump in and leave a comment:-)

November 18, 2010
by blogwalker
4 Comments

Nominations for the 2010 Edublogs Award

Edublogs Awards – It’s that time of year again. I really appreciate this opportunity to recognize those who have contributed greatly to my PLN:

  • Best Individual BlogEducating Alice – Monica Edinger’s posts will keep you on top of the latest in children’s literature – along with insights on how to team literature and technology.
  • Best Individual TweeterLarry Ferlazzo – I don’t always have time to read through the sheer volume of great resources Larry shares on his Websites of the Day site, but every time he posts a resource to Twitter, I know it will be well worth my time to open the link.
  • Best Group BlogVoices on the Gulf – Once again, my friend, mentor, and NWP colleague Paul Allison makes “keeping it real” part of this timely online community of teachers, students, and community leaders who have joined Paul on a year-long investigation into the impact of our nation’s worst oil spill.
  • Best Class BlogMs. Cheung’s Connection – A 4th grade teacher in my district who always teaches from the heart (despite the pressures of a Title 1 site in its second year of Program Improvement), Teresa Cheung’s projects are always a source of inspiration.
  • Best Resource Sharing BlogThe Edublogger – You don’t even have to be a blogger to benefit from Sue Water’s shared conversations, great resources, and wonderful humor.
  • Best Teacher BlogKevin’s Meandering Mind – When teachers new to blogging ask me where they should start, I recommend following (NWP colleague) Kevin’ Hodgson’s continuing journey with 6th graders into the possibilities and limits of “teaching the new writing.”
  • Most Influential Blog PostMiguel Guhlin’s recent post Nurture Human Talents. If you are looking for the research and the argument for all students’ right to become producers of information (not just drill ‘n kill consumers), you definitely need to read this piece.
  • Best Educational WikiResources for Digital Writing and Digital Teaching – Considering Troy Hicks’ volume of outstanding publications and presentations, his wiki is the next-best-thing to traveling to a conference to attend one of his sessions or heading to Amazon to order one of his books.
  • Best Use of AudioYA! Cast – Looking for a site to amaze teachers about the possibilities of Audacity and podcasting? Robert Rozema’s pre-service teachers can show you!
  • Best Use of VideoThe Power of One – (NWP colleague) Lesley McKillop’s 4th graders take their voices beyond the classroom via video to change their community and to connect with online communities across the nation in creating and sharing information.
  • Best Use of a Social NetworkKnow ELLs – Feeling a  little overwhelmed about how to best meet the needs of your English Language Learners? From the National Writing Project, such a brilliant group of teachers sharing their expertise and resources!
  • Best Use of a PLNEdutopia: What Works in Education – With project-based learning experts such as Suzie Boss leading discussions and amazing workshops (including last summer’s session on studying and teaching the PB oil spill), I think there is something for everyone at this site!
  • Lifetime Achievement AwardGeorge Lucas – In a year when teacher-bashing seems at an all-time high, I really appreciate all George Lucas has done to support teachers and celebrate public education.

August 22, 2010
by blogwalker
0 comments

Copyright Clarity – Workshop, Book, Resources, and More!

I’m back from a three-day whirlwind trip to Philadelphia, where I joined 23 other educators for Renee Hobb’s fabulous Copyright Clarity Train-the-Trainers Workshop. And just like the workshop subtitle states, I’m truly ready and excited to “ Share the Good News about How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning.

This event was actually my third time to join Renee- and her wonderful co-presenter Kristen Hokanson – in their commitment to help teachers step out of the delimiting fog of copyright confusion and start “flexing their fair use muscles.”

My first session was a 3-hour ISTE 2009 workshop on Fair Use for Educators. I blogged that session live, using the same order of resources and activities, so that I would have a step-by-step guide for facilitating  a similar workshop. What impressed me about the session was that in 3 hours, I left, as did everyone at my table, ready to put away forever Hall Davidson’s handy chart on fair use and start the conversations back in my district on “how fair use supports digital learning.”

Last January, I joined Kristen and Renee for their Educon 2.2 session: The Cost of Copyright Confusion: The Future of intellectual property in a Remix Generation. How was this session different from their ISTE session? Time – 90 minutes vs. 3 hours. Although I would prefer a 3-hour, or even an all-day session, the majority of invitations I’ve had for unrolling Copyright Clarity are for  60-90 minute sessions.  I think if you refer participants to the Media Education website, provide a hyperlinked workshop agenda, and strongly recommend that they purchase a copy of Copyright Clarity, participants will leave ready to start their own journeys out of the copyright confusion fog.

Knowing that good things happen in 3’s, I registered for the all-day Copyright Clarity August 19 workshop in Philadelphia. At some point during last summer’s ISTE Conference, by chance, in one of the many crowded convention center hallways, I passed Kristen – who told me, “you should join us for the train-the-trainer summer workshop.” Coincidentally, my NWP/NCTE colleague and ISTE roommate Sandy Hayes had just been extended the same invitation during Renee’s workshop. A few weeks, a few emails, and a few phone calls later, it was settled: Sandy and I would meet in Philly and end our summers as certified Program Associates for Copyright Clarity. Definitely a great decision!

I’ll end with a few of my new Copyright Clarity take-aways:

  • A concept: You truly do NOT have to be a copyright expert to flex your fair use muscles. As a Copyright Clarity trainer, I will NOT be the one to rule whether teachers’ and students’ use of copyrighted materials could be argued as fair use. But I will be available to help them examine individual scenarios and start the reasoning process.
  • A strategy:  Want your workshop participants to leave feeling pumped and ready to replicate your session at their own sites? Working in teams, have them as an ending activity go through your workshop PowerPoint and prepare themselves to come in front of the group when their names are drawn to present one or two of the slides, which they have put their own spin on, based on an audience of their choice (administrators, tech integration specialists, parents, etc.).  Renee demonstrated this strategy beautifully, calling for “warm comments” after each team finished their 1-2 minute presentations.  What a great way to build conversations, enthusiasm, and confidence!
  • A CUE tip:  If you’re traveling to either the fall or spring CUE Conference, be sure to get to any of Spiro Bolos‘ sessions!. He has joined the dynamic duo of Renee and Kristen, which is now an absolutely amazing trio. But if you can’t make Spiro’s real-time sessions, you can also read about his transformative projects in Copyright Clarity.

Next on my Copyright Clarity to-do list: try converting the CC PowerPoint into a Prezi, a seed planted by my slideshow activity partner Mike George.

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