Muddling through the blogosphere

June 30, 2008
by blogwalker

Digital Storytelling

Bernajean Porter is asking us the difference between a story and storytelling. It’s a “lesson learned” that raises a story to storytelling. We’re watching the sample The Music in My Heart, with the tip that when justifying storytelling in your curriculm, make sure you always end by focusing on the difference it makes to an individual student.

Digital storytelling is tuned in tightly to the writing process. You’ve got to have some art to the story, plus a good beginning and solid end. It’s about stories having power and memorability.

Sample exercise: The prompt is “write about a time when technology made a difference in the life of a student” Check out samples and tips at Become a Storykeeper Wiki. Bernajean’s passion for the need to make and share stories about making a difference in the lives of children is infectious. She’s proposing a national project.

“There’s amazing power in storytelling for learning and for spirit. We have to start celebrating from our hearts how teachers make a difference for kids.” Bernajean Porter

June 30, 2008
by blogwalker

Digital Citizenship in Schools: NETS*s Refresh

Mike Ribble, director of Technology from Manhattan-Ogden School District in Kansas, is starting his session on digital citizenship, using the NETS standard. His opening quote in from the movie “Full Disclosure” with the quote “May you live in interesting times.” Technology opens so many possibilities but also so many issues.

NETS*Standard 5 in-a-nutshell definition: “The norms appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.” Full blown: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal ethical behavior.

Why is digital citizenship important? (Side trip into Michael Wesch’s video A Vision of Students Today. What are the issues?:

  • providing tools without explaining how to use them
  • between two generations – one that has watched the growth of technology and one that has not known a world without digital opportunities (Prensky)
  • Setting a foundation for the future

Key Questions for today’s session:

  • What are the issues related to Digital Citizenship?
    • digital access
    • digital commerce
    • digital communication
    • digital literacy
    • digital security
    • digital etiquette
    • digital rights and responsibilities
    • digital law
    • digital health and welfare
  • How are we going to deal with them?
    • to understand Digital Citizenship we need to be able to see all the parts (Peter Senge, 1990)
    • working with AUPs – how can we turn them from negative phrasing to positive? (Jordan School District, Jordan Utah video on students powering down for school). How do we make it clear to students what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate. Considering that first graders are showing up to school with cell phones, we have to start in kindergarten.
  • Digital law: the legal rights and restrictions governing technology use.
    • YouTube video of teacher hitting a student, taken by a student on a cell phone
  • Digital health and welfare: the elements of physical and psychological well-being related to digital technology use. Internet addiction problem is exploding. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to alcoholism.
  • Digital security (self-protection): the precautions that all technology users must take to guarantee their personal safety and the security of their network. Constant issue with kids finding proxy servers to tunnel on by the firewall.
  • Digital Access: full electronic participation in society. Everyone should have opportunity to be involved in a digital society.
  • Dgial Communication: electronic exchange of information. All users of digital technologies need to understand the rules and options when using digital communication (cell phones, blogs, wikis, RSS).
  • Digital etiquette: the standards of conduct expected by other digital technology users. Students need to realize how their use of technology affects others.
  • Digital rights and responsibilities: the privileges and freedoms extended to all digital technology uers, and the behavioral expectations that come with them.
  • Digital literacy – the capability to use digital technology and knowing when and hwo to use it.
  • Digital commerce: the buying and selling of goods online.

So what do we do now? Where do we begin? Don’t attempt to teach them all at once. Work from the framework and work back out. IT departments and teaching and learning need to work together. State and federal need to coordinate where and how technology should be monitored.

June 30, 2008
by blogwalker

Ten Tips for Better PowerPoints

I managed to beat the crowds and am now sitting right up front for David Jakes’ session on 10 Points for Improving PowerPoint presentations. Dean Shareski just finished the introduction (hilarious) of David, who is now starting with some images of old technologies, such as the ditto machine…and heading into the ’80s with…PowerPoint. Yep, PowerPoint has been with us since 1987!

“It’s not what the software does. It’s about what they do with it. It’s about crafting the message.”

Teach them biology

The brain is innately designed to communicate visually. Brain wired for visual (30%), but auditory in only (3%). Therefore PowerPoint has to be really visual. Move kids away from templates and away from being text-based. Presentations are indeed performances. Don’t remove all text, but limit it. Dual Processing of brain: visual and auditory + Cognitive load: intrinsic(based on how complex material is) and extrinsic (based on how material is presented).

Teach them how to find images

  • Flickr – billions of images
  • Flickr-storm – type in CreativeCommons in search window and select attribution. Select an image and download tray. Toolbar displays URL. Allows teacher to create bank.of images for students.
  • iStockphoto – Pay site – but wonderful photography. For 1$ you’ll get an outstanding image. Advance search provides grid that allows you to select and add text in bottom area.

Teach them design (Dean Shareski)

  • How to keep up with all the tools – Using random template that has nothing to do with presentation. So strip the template. Strip away unimportant points. Make the image central and, ideally an image (which will help you retain the information).

Teach them to sell

  • Antidote to kids copying and pasting. Kids have to learn how to craft a story, not move content from point a to point b. Kids need to write deeply about their topic. Why not have them write a storyboard, just as they would for a digital story. “Communication ia the transfer of emotion” Seth Godin

Color and font choice matters

  • Color is important. It means different things to different audiences. Dave is showing a yellow-cast beach image. Green suggests renewal. Blue = fav color in US. Red signals danger or alert. Blockbuster = blue with yellow border. Deep blue signifies trust.
  • Fonts – sans serif vs serif (little feet help your eye travel across text), but when you project, always use a sans serif. Tip: Never use Helvetica with US audience (font of IRS)

Teach them to incorporate multimedia:

  • But how to get video from off the web to “embed” in presentation.
  • 3 ways to do this:
    • (avi on PC/mov on Mac)
    • Go into PowerPoint and check steps
    • PowerPt 2003 -07 – YouTube video – creates button to embed into your PowerPoint.

Teach them PowerPoint Secrets

  • Go online and search keystrokes – “B” – takes to slide to black or “W” and slide goes white
  • Type in # of slide so that you can bring in hidden content (slides)

Teach them to share

“Back of Napkin” – selling ideas by getting people to think visually

  • Slideshare – look for exemplars – opening page has “featured presentations.” Show to students and have them critique them
  • Sliderocket – you can build your presentation online
  • Google doc – upload a presentation to Google docs and share it – Use chat box on right so others can join into to preso from other sites.
  • Give photo credits

2008 = lots of ways to communicate!

June 30, 2008
by blogwalker

Very Cool Tricks for Using and Making Videos

I’m sitting in a very packed room with Rushton Hurley (I’m actually hiding from the fire code folks up front where they can’t see that I’m exceeding the room limit). Low Tech Advice:

  • time limits
  • violence and martial arts (think high school boys)
  • podcasts and slideshows – ask the students “Is this what you want other people to hear.” Ease kids into projects so they care about a quality produce
  • alone or with others – helps kids who don’t have the equipment
  • alternatives – you can give students non-video options such as posters (but they’ll want to do video!)

Resources: These resouces can be used as long as you cite them:


Titles and Screenshots:

  • using save-as in PowerPoint (use save as > save as type > save as jpg option)
  • screenshots
    • Google Earth or Sketch Up
    • PicLens – plug in for your browser – perfect fix for those with “iPhone envy.” Great tool for teaching vocabulary, for instance.

Free Photos:

  • KIds need to read the attribution requirements; otherwise, they’ll go to Google and not only violate copyright but also pick something that will pixalate like crazy.
  • (newspaper term) – Huge file sizes, which are good for video.

Motion Experience:

  • Motion should ahve a purpose (pans, faces, eyes)
  • What to do if you’re on PC? Use PhotoStory3 – great, great tool and free! Import pictures > customize motion option > save. If you’re using panning, you want the motion to be different all the time (which is shortcoming with default panning (Ken Burns effect). Oh, and you can create music in Photostory. A bit “elevatorish,” but you have options. Tip: don’t use a favorite pop song because that’s what your listeners will concentrate on — not your movie.

Moving Beyond Freebies

  • Macs – Final Cut Express
  • PCs Adobe Premiere Elements – $99 ( – It’s a memory hog, so you’ll need a good video card with lots of RAM. Remember to render often, not just save. Big advantage of having multiple tracks. Key frames feature is cool, allowing you to add great effects., such as translucent text floating across an image. Want a good mic for camera: lavalier mic.

Why do we do video?

  • another way to show learning
  • good for ELL, LD kiddos
  • impact (“favorite thing”)
  • audience – we need to expand the audience so that kids really stretch

Good news… You can contact Rushton via or Fabulous session!

July 8, 2007
by blogwalker

Overcoming the Achievement Gap – Can It Be This Simple?

To pass the time on my flights to and from NECC, I grabbed – and dusted off – a few magazines from my nightstand. The first article to catch my eye was from the April/May 2007 edition of George Luca’s edutopia: Overcoming Underachievement – How a simple writing exercise dismantled negative racial preconceptions. I’ve since reread this short (2 pages) piece several times. The article describes a study run by researchers from Yale, Stanford, and the University of Colorado, with many quotes from lead researcher Geoffrey Cohen. The researchers had a theory that “the disparity in academic performance between white and African American students is partly fueled by a psychological effect called stereotype threat.” To narrow the achievement gap, they proposed using “a simple fifteen-minute writing exercise.”

What really grabbed my attention about the experiment is that the setting could easily have been a middle school from my district: “… a middle school attended by about even numbers of African American and white students, mostly from middle or lower middle class families… this school already had positive forces in play – sufficient resources, devoted staff, academically prepared students…” Nevertheless, an “invisible obstacle” was blocking African American students from “fully exploiting those benefits.”

The 15-minute assignment (randomly assigned with a control group given a different set of choices) was “to choose from a list of attributes the ones they value, such as relationships with friends or being good at art, and write about them.” The researchers believed that allowing students to write about things they cared about would “counter the fear of being stereotyped long enough to boost their grades on the next assignment.” And it did. Grades improved not only on the next assignment, but on their final grades too.

It’s a no-brainer that letting students write on topics that are important to them fosters improved writing. But what jumps out to me is that the significant achievement gains were attributed to a single assignment. Teachers are under tremendous pressure right now “to fit it all in,” but I think they can always squeeze one more thing in if they see the value. I’m going to pass the article on!

Of course, I couldn’t keep from thinking what if… the students were invited to go “live” with their essays in a Web 2.0 environment?!?

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July 5, 2007
by blogwalker

Some NECC Favorites

Time to reflect on some favorites from NECC 2007

  • Favorite toy: Flip video camera – Priced at 75$ at Costco for the model that offers up to 30 minutes of video, this pocket-sized camera has a popout USB plug in. So no more hunting for cables. And at that price, I think teachers will feel more comfortable checking out the camera to students. (Thank you Scott Merrick)
  • Favorite RSS News Aggregator: – This reader is more like a customizable newspaper format, and, unlike Bloglines or Google Reader, you can share your reader. (Thanks David Warlick)
  • Favorite URL: Tiny URL – For all the times I haven’t cited where I found an image included on this blog, for instance, because the address went on forever and every, here’s a nifty way to provide readers with a greatly shortened version of the URL. (Thanks Will Richardson)
  • Favorite Web 2.0 Projects: Read Around the Planet – a great way to involve primary students in literary virtual community (Thanks Janine Lim) and Flat World Project – connecting Georgia to Bangladesh (Thanks Vicki Davis).
  • Favorite Session: Using Wikis in the Classroom – I already had a inkling of the collaborative power of wikis – but I did not realize the huge, huge amount of upload space included with (Thanks Adam Frey)

Off to play in the foothills 🙂

June 29, 2007
by blogwalker

Blogging NECC

georgiawcc.jpgThanks to the generous support of the California K12HSN, I attended – and blogged – NECC 2007. Due to Edublogs updates, I borrowed space from my dog Nola’s Blogger site (hey, she’s a Katrina survivor, but not an educator, so therefore Blogger instead of Edublogs). The links below are posts of the highlights from noteworthy sessions I blogged live from Atlanta.

As soon as I shake a case of jetlag, I’ll be posting some NECC 2007 afterthoughts, tips, and resources. 20,000 attendees – whew …

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June 10, 2007
by blogwalker

NECC Schedule

necc.pngThis post is in response to David Warlick‘s What Will You Be Drinking in Atlanta?, a suggestion that people share what they’ll be attending and what they hope to take away from the NECC 2007 Conference. I hope to increase my Web 2.0 toolbox, particularly with all aspects of podcasting, digital storytelling, and videoconferencing – and the research and rationale for including these tools in K-12 curriculum. I am also looking for powerful examples to bring administrators on board with the Read/Write web – sort of a Marzano Does Web 2.0 approach.

Here’s my schedule:

  • Saturday – Arrive in time to catch the afternoon session of the EdBlogCon.
  • Sunday – I’ll be with David Warlick, attending his Advanced Blogging, or Dealing with Sidebar Envy (SUF262) full-day workshop.
  • Monday – I’m looking forward to staring the morning with PhotoStory: Documenting Historical Perspectives through Multimedia half-day workshop. I’ll be focusing on videoconferencing in the afternoon as I join Janine Lim for her “Distance Edutainment” is Here… and Some of It Is Gross and Read Around the Planet via Videoconference [AND] MysteryQuest: An Interactive Videoconference Project sessions.
  • Tuesday – My morning starts with Will Richardson‘s Empowering Practice: Leveraging the Read/Write Web for Professional Growth. For the afternoon, I planning to drop in on New Tools, New Schools: Starting the Conversation about Web 2.0; Podcasting for Professional Development: Innovative Strategies for Syndicated Success: Starting From Scratch: Building School 2.0; and The REAL Work of 21st-Century Skills
  • WednesdayI’m hoping to move beyond my very beginning Photoshop level by attending Advanced Digital Image Editing for Teachers with PhotoShop Elements in the morning, and then head off to my last conference session, Expanding Boundaries of Learning: Designing Rigorous and Globally Connected Assignments.

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