BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

February 2, 2020
by blogwalker
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Adding a New Chapter to Time of Remembrance

I have blogged about and referenced the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project many times in recent and past years. I first shared about the TOR project in 2007 (Time of Remembrance: Move Over Ken Burns!), blogging that I would soon be documenting the stories of Japanese-American citizens in the Florin-Elk Grove region (south of Sacramento, California) who, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, faced discrimination, exclusion, and forced removal from their communities. Thanks to my district’s partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), their talented videographer Doug Niva joined me and my colleague Kathleen Watt on the journey, filming and editing professional quality interviews with over 30 former internees.

Five years ago Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, a City Councilman at the time, shared a little known story from the Vietnam War with our superintendent. Steve had learned about our TOR World War II project and asked that we consider documenting the Secret War in Laos. As a refugee from the Secret War, he thought it important for the Elk Grove community to know about the  many ways Hmong and Mien (two growing populations in Elk Grove) had supported U.S. troops during our involvement in the Vietnam War.

Steve Ly was the first interviewee in our Vietnam War section of the TOR project.

Thanks to Steve’s recommendations and the continued commitment by the SECC to bring history alive, we now have 16 interviews from our Hmong and Mien community. Their interviews provide invaluable insights to understanding the challenges faced by refugees, such as language barriers, cultural differences, huge shifts in geography, and loss of homeland and heritage.

We also have interviews with American pilots (“Ravens”) who flew secret missions over Laos, which stand as a testimony to the contributions and sacrifices of their brave “backseaters”/”Robins”.

This week we will be transforming our former Student Gallery page to a broader topic: On Coming to America. The On Coming to America page will still feature student-led interviews, but also teacher and community-led interviews, all with the common thread/theme of the challenges, contributions, and resilience of our immigrant and refugee populations.

Our first spotlight story is an interview with author, poet, community activist, and Holocaust survivor Hannie Voyles.

In 2011, my Chico friend (and TOLI colleague) Pam Bodnar contacted me to share that she had invited Chico resident Hannie Voyles, a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, to share her survivor story with a group of students at Marsh Middle School. Minutes after Hannie’s visit, Pam called to recommend that Doug Niva and I come to Chico to interview Hannie. We did.

Note: To quickly access specific parts of Hannie’s interview, here is the link to the time codes and short descriptors. Thank you to Doug Niva and our partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) for filming the interview.

Nine years later, I connect with Hannie on every opportunity I can find – including four bike & barge trips across the Netherlands (with a 5th trip coming up in August). With each visit and each trip, Hannie provides me with another window into her childhood in Amsterdam, where she attended the same Montessori school as Anne Frank before the Nazis invaded.

Last week I drafted a lesson to accompany Hannie’s interview. As always, I sought feedback from Kathleen. We soon had the lesson ready to share, along with a teacher’s guide. Accordingly, the On Coming to America page (formerly the Student Gallery page) of the TOR website now includes a link to Hannie’s interview, along with time codes and descriptors (so students/teachers can quickly move the YouTube bar to specific parts of the interview).

We anticipate more Holocaust interviews to come, starting with “second gen” authors: journalist Judy Fertig Panneton and former teacher Joan Arnay Halperin.

If you know Holocaust survivors or “second gen children” in the greater Sacramento region who would be willing to share their stories, please leave a comment. I strongly believe in the power of story to change hearts and minds – and the need to document first-hand and second-hand accounts before they are forgotten and lost.

“We must keep this history at the forefront of our collective memory, to prevent other individuals or groups from suffering as we did. We are always vulnerable to societal weaknesses;we are not too wise to repeat ourselves.”     Hannie J. Voyles, Storming the Tulips

As always, we invite students to document On Coming to America stories from their families, school districts, and communities – and share them with us via the TOR website.

 

March 24, 2019
by blogwalker
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SFJAZZ 2019 Concert – A tribute to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“In every freedom and social movement, music has been at the center as a tool for communication.” Marcus Shelby

On February 22, in honor of Black History Month, SFJAZZ Education hosted its annual School Day Concert, featuring award-winning bassist, bandleader and community activist Marcus Shelby and his quartet, along with vocalist Tiffany Austin and poet Paul Flores. This year’s theme was a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with a focus on the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement.

SFJAZZ 2019 Concert

Marcus Shelby and SFJAZZ Education are committed to bringing rich music experiences and appreciation into classrooms, especially in low-income communities, by providing interactive performances infused with history and social justice themes. This year’s performance featured pieces that played a central part in our nation’s struggle for human rights and for civil rights, showcasing the work of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and more.

Over 800 students from schools in the San Francisco Bay Area traveled to the SFJazz Miner Auditorium to attend this free event.

SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco

Thanks to an ongoing collaboration between SFJAZZ and California’s High Speed Network, three California middle schools were able to attend the concert virtually: Preuss Middle School in San Diego, Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, and Elk Grove Unified’s Samuel Jackman Middle School.

Throughout the hour, the performers encouraged the audience to join them by clapping and singing along. They also intermittently called out to the Samuel Jackman and Preuss students and projected their rooms onto the large screen. (Brewer Middle School had to cancel at the last minute.) The performers ended the concert by inviting students to ask questions. Based on the number of students lined up in the SFJAZZ Center and at Preuss and Jackman, the concert organizers will probably want to allow more time for Q&A during their 2020 concert.

Setting up for the concert definitely involved a time commitment on the technology end, as the schools would be connecting with Ultragrid, a newly developed, high-quality video conferencing program from the Czech Republic. In Elk Grove, Technology Services and the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) started testing connections weeks earlier and continued troubleshooting right up till the day before.

Their efforts paid off. From start to finish, both the audio and video connections were excellent, making it possible for close to 1,000 middle school students (in-person + virtual) to enjoy, learn from, and interact with a highly talented group of professional musicians.

A huge shoutout to SF Jazz! Their Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights Concert was a remarkable event and a powerful example of using technology and bandwidth to bring innovative learning experiences directly into the classroom.

 Spending the morning with Jackman band teacher Benwar Shepard and his students was as inspiring as the concert itself. As the concert came to a close, Shepard summed up the importance of bringing jazz into our classrooms:

“Jazz education…and jazz as a style itself… is America’s truest art form. The seeds of jazz have led us to where we are today.”

Photo from Twitter stream of keynote speaker Glen Warren and teachers Cathe Petuya and Gail Desler

January 31, 2019
by blogwalker
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#SatSeminar19 – Celebrating Powerful Teaching

If you have read any of my recent blog posts, you know that I’ve participated in a number of state and national technology conferences. I welcome the opportunity to learn about new technology tools, activities and strategies teachers across the state and nation are excited about. But I also believe in the power of offering an annual technology conference within our own school districts. Hence, last Saturday I joined over 300 teachers and administrators for Elk Grove Unified School District’s 4th annual Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar.

Elk Grove USD's Annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms website

Like any well-thought out conference, it’s always a good idea to bring in an inspiring, energizing keynote speaker who can set the tone for an exceptional day of learning, sharing and networking. That speaker was Glen WarrenEncinitas Union School District‘s “Director of Literacies, Outreach, and Libraries, in other words, he is the LOL Director.”

Photo of #SatSeminar19 keynote speaker Glen Warren

Keynote speaker Glen Warren kicks off #SatSeminar19 .

Last May, my colleague Kathleen Watt and I attended the California Department of Education’s first Media & Information Literacy Summit here in Sacramento. Minutes into Glen’s keynote, Kathleen and I turned to each other, nodded and gave each other the thumbs up, meaning that Glen Warren had to be the keynote speaker for our 2019 Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar. Mission accomplished.

Following Glen’s awesome, pull-the-whole-audience-to-their-feet keynote (captured by Julianna Hedstrom), teachers headed to whichever sessions seemed relevant to their teaching levels and subject/interest areas.

Session 1

My goal for Session 1 was to circulate around the Cosumnes Oaks High School to make sure all our presenters were good to go on the tech end. In addition to 13 sessions to choose from, 12 lucky teachers, on a first come/first served basis, signed up for one of five Escape the Bus experiences, a collaborative group break out challenge.

Escape Bus – Team 2 #SatSeminar

What the Escape Bus participants did not know was that, at the end of the day, we would be raffling off 3 tickets to bring the bus for a full day to the winning ticket holders’ school sites.

Session 2

For Session 2, I joined our Director of Technology Services for the What You Should Know Before Clicking “I Accept” workshop.  Below is our session description:

Balancing new technologies with the need to protect student privacy and data might seem like a daunting challenge, but it is also a must-have skill in an age when data privacy issues are increasingly in the headlines. Come learn the legal requirements, explore free classroom resources, and leave empowered to safeguard student data and to help your students do the same.

Thank you Common Sense for all the tips, tools and resources to help teachers and parents protect our students’/children’s online privacy. We hope our attendees left the session with better understanding of why, as a district, we block apps or websites that are not FERPA, COPPA, or CA AB 1584 compliant.

Session 3

I had the privilege of joining the incredible combo of Erica Swift and Cathe Petuya for their Amplifying Student Voice Through Videoconferencing session. When teachers open up the walls of their classroom via videoconferencing, this is when tech integration becomes transformative, enabling learning opportunities in ways not possible without the technology (as explained in the SAMR framework). I’ve been a long-time advocate of videoconferencing, which, today with free programs such as Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom, can easily connect your students with NASA scientists, authors, subject matter experts, other classrooms and California State Parks. Via the PORTS program (California Parks Online Resources for Students and Teacher), we were able to bring Ranger Jenny Comperda, live from Calaveras Big Trees State Park, into our session. 

Poster from Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Note: The signature PORTS videoconference, Carroll Elementary & Columbia State Park, features Cathe and her 2nd graders, and the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly videoconference features Erica and her students. In both examples, which are from a few years back, we used a $6,000 Polycom camera. Today, our classrooms connect via a $35 webcam. I cannot imagine a subject area or topic that could not be extended through the power of videoconferencing.

Session 4

Session 4 was my first opportunity to co-present with EGUSD 6th grade teacher Conrad Bituin for our  Twitter: The Absolute Best PD on the Planet session. What a fun session to end the day with! Kind of amazing, but if you click on the live Twitter stream below (from Julianna Hedstrom’s session Tweet), from across the globe, Edublogger Kathleen Morris replied to the Tweet…Welcome to the Twittersphere! Love the many ways Twitter helps us become connected learners and educators.

As in the past, we ended our Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar by bringing everyone together for a raffle. This year we went a little over the top with prizes. As I mentioned above, three very lucky attendees had the winning tickets to bring the Escape Bus to their school site for a full day of digital age collaboration and learning.

Start to finish, #SatSeminar19 was a wonderful district-based event and day. Because our own teachers are the presenters, attendees will leave each session truly able to implement their seminar takeaways on Monday – without running into filtering issues or mandated student privacy laws followed by individual districts and/or specific states (which can be the downside of national tech conference takeaways).

Thank you to all who attended #SatSeminar19. Thank you to Glen Warren for the wonderful keynote + 3 break out sessions. And a big thank you to Julianna Hedstrom (Roseville  Joint USD) for being our Honorary Librarian of the day.

Photo from Twitter stream of keynote speaker Glen Warren and teachers Cathe Petuya and Gail Desler

 

January 29, 2018
by blogwalker
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PBS: We’ll Meet Again – Premiere Episode with Reiko Nagumo

Thanks to an email from Julie Thomas, Library Archivist for California State University, Sacramento,  I made sure to be home last Tuesday by 8:00 p.m.

Julie’s subject line was a grabber for me: Reiko Nagumo “We’ll Meet Again.” Her message was short:

“Here is the link to the We’ll Meet Again website and Reiko’s story is highlighted further down the page. I encourage you to tune in at 8:00 (EST and PST) and 7:00 (CST) on your local PBS station. It’s an amazing story about an amazing woman.”

PBS special We'll Meet Again

We’ll Meet Again is a new PBS series produced and hosted by veteran journalist Ann Curry. The six-part series documents reunions between people whose lives were suddenly disrupted by historic events such as war. Episode 1 features Reiko Nagumo and her childhood friend Mary Frances, who, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, stood up for Reiko when no one else would.

I have blogged before about Time of Remembrance, an oral histories project I co-direct for my district with my colleague Kathleen Watt. We had the privilege of interviewing Reiko 12 years ago. Her interview is one I often share with elementary students. I especially want them to know about Reiko’s friendship with Mary Frances (clip 2, 04:52). It’s a beautiful example of what can happen when a single person crosses the line (or playground) to extend a simple act of kindness to someone in need.

The high quality of the interviews (PBS quality, if I say so myself) are the result of our partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC). We are incredibly grateful to the talent and project dedication of SECC videographer Doug Niva.

Several years ago, following a 3-day trip to the Manzanar internment camp, Doug suggested that we make a short documentary to introduce people to our growing collection  of interviews. I’m American Too – A Story from Behind the Fences (16 minutes) includes snippets of Reiko’s interview, along with other internees, whose lives were also overnight and forever changed by Executive Order 9066.

Today, the Time of Remembrance project also includes a Vietnam War section, in which we’ve attempted to capture a little known story: the Secret War in Laos. For a quick overview, watch our 4-minute introduction:

Based on the impact of Reiko’s interview, and in every interview since hers, we always end with the same question: Can you think back to a time in your life (facing exclusion and forces removal, surviving in internment and refugee camps, starting the first day of school in a new country, etc.) when there was someone who stood up for you, making whatever challenges you were dealing with a little easier to cope with?

We are firm believers in the power of a single upstander to make a profound difference in someone’s life – or even change the course of history – and that “it is small things that allow bigger things to happen” (Sam Edleman, Holocaust historian).

January has been a painful month in my district due to a number of racist incidents, which have been widely publicized through local and national media. In an attempt to build student awareness on the exponential negative impact of bystanders, be it face-to-face or online, we invite students across the district, nation, and globe to contribute to our Upstanders, Not Bystanders VoiceThread. We started this VoiceThread a few years ago, and have had an amazing range of contributors, from kindergarten students to humanitarian Carl Wilkens. And, yes, Reiko Nagumo has already shared on the Voice Thread.

Note: A VoiceThread is like a visual podcast. Once you register with VoiceThread for a free account (a process that takes only a couple of minutes), you will be able to post a comment via voice, text, or webcam. Your comment will go “live” as soon as we approve it. If you are in a school district that is a GSuite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education) district, you already have an account, as VoiceThread is now integrated into your district Google account. Head to your Google Apps launcher (waffle) and scroll down to the More section to find the VoiceThread icon.

We look forward to hearing your students’ upstander stories – and yours too! Besides the VoiceThread, you can also leave a comment on this post. We’d love to showcase any projects or programs you are implementing in your schools to promote tolerance, respect, empathy, inclusion and global citizenship.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” ~ Albert Einstein

February 13, 2017
by blogwalker
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Teaching about Intellectual Property – #HyperDoc style

I love the many ways teachers in my district – and probably your district too – are guiding student-centered conversations  about building positive digital footprints, protecting online privacy, and confronting cyberbullying. A shout out to Common Sense Media, iKeepSafe, and Netsmartz for the wealth of free resources and lessons you provide to schools on these key digital citizenship topics.

There is a fourth digital citizenship topic that many teachers are increasingly recognizing the need to address: intellectual property. By 5th grade, most students have been warned about the consequences of plagiarism, a conversation that is typically repeated throughout their middle and high school days. While plagiarism is certainly an important topic, in a digital age, copyright,  fair use, and Creative Commons also need to be included in the conversations.  Given how easy it has become to download, copy, remix, and upload online content, students need to have an understanding of both their intellectual property rights and responsibilities.

Elk Grove USD’s 4 digital citizenship themes – BY NC SA

As a co-director of my district’s Digital Citizenship initiative and co-curator of the Digital ID project, I am always seeking teacher-friendly/student-friendly resources on intellectual property. I also facilitate district-wide and national workshops ( e.g., CUE and ISTE) to help teachers understand that copyright is different from plagiarism and that fair use and Creative Commons are also options for our students.

Digital ID Project’s 4 digital citizenship foci – BY NC SA

Based on questions from workshop participants, two years ago I created Can I Use That? A Guide for Teaching about Creative Commons. I always review the guide prior to a workshop to check if I need to update any information or add new resources.  This year, in preparation for the March CUE Conference, I’m adding a #HyperDocs* lesson that invites students to delve into copyright, flex their fair use muscles, and license their own creations via Creative Commons. So here it is: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons.

Hope you can join me and the fabulous Jane Lofton for our CUE Can I Use That? session (Saturday, 8:00)! If you have questions about the lesson or suggestions for updates to the Guide, please respond with a comment or contact me @GailDesler.

*#HperDocs is a term invented by @LHighfill.

February 9, 2017
by blogwalker
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#PublicSchools: Igniting, supporting, promoting students’ passions

Friday night I headed over to Cosumnes Oaks High school to attend an amazing event: Hype Dance Showcase.  For two hours, I sat mesmerized by the choreography, costuming, high energy, obvious passion, and jaw-dropping talents of the student dancers. I promise to update this post as soon as school’s video team uploads footage to their website.

Friday’s event was my third visit to COHS in the past two weeks. I blogged last week about the Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar, which was also hosted by COHS. A few days before the seminar, I had an appointment to meet with our tech support team to check out the rooms reserved for the seminar. It was close to 4:00 when I made it over to the campus. The school day officially ends at 3:00.

Oh my, oh my, to hear the band practicing for an upcoming competition and to walk by classrooms with students choosing to stay after school to participate in a variety of clubs and meetings was pretty inspiring. I wish I had taken some photos of the stunning art exhibit several students were putting the final touches on. And come to think of it, I also recently blogged about a writing assignment from a COHS teacher a colleague had shared with me.

There are 64 other schools in my district. Could I find at least three activities, lessons, and/or events to boast about at each of those sites? Yes.

Wonderful things happen in our public schools. #PublicSchools

 

November 14, 2016
by blogwalker
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CETPA 2016 Student Showcase

If you are looking for a antidote to post-election blues, I highly recommend pulling together a student showcase of elementary, middle, and high school students excited to demonstrate innovative uses of technology. To that end, last week I was tasked by my district’s Technology Services Director to bring a team of students to the Sacramento Convention Center for the 2016 CETPA Conference. This was my first time to attend the CETPA Conference. It was also CETPA’s first time to dedicate a section of the convention lobby for a two-hour Student Showcase. What an enjoyable, inspiring morning!

Our youngest presenters, a team of four 2nd graders from Elliot Ranch Elementary School, introduced conference goers to Code.org.  They were joined by Herman Leimbach Elementary School’s team of 5th and 6th graders, who were eager to share how to create a digital story through MIT’s Scratch coding program.

The video production team from Toby Johnson Middle School alternated between talking with visitors to their table and making the rounds to gather interviews for upcoming school-wide news broadcasts.

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Toby Johnson Media Team member interviews CDW Educational Rep Eric Patnoudes.

Sheldon High School’s K9 Studios’ team dazzled conference goers, including vendors, with their virtual reality (VR) projects. I loved watching the teams interact with – and impress the heck out of – technology directors and visionaries from across the state.

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Sheldon High School team introduces conference goers to virtual reality (VR).

This morning I received an email from Shawn Sullivan, who is featured with his students in the above photo. He wanted me to know that his students were interviewed by Google and that “Google was interested in sharing VR and how to use it in the classroom. They were excited to hear we already are using it. They gave a challenge to the students on creating educational content for the classroom. At lunch, that day, the students started planning what to do for that challenge!”

And CETPA rewarded the students with t-shirts and pizza. Nice combo! Wonderful event!

If I had had any idea of how amazing Dr. Robert Ballard’s keynote would be, I would have tried to persuade the student teams to extend their stay. Ballard is a brilliant + hilarious presenter (another nice combo). Although his keynote was not filmed, the TEDX Talk below and a visit to his website will give you an idea of why I was swept away by his keynote.

I came to CETPA incorrectly assuming that the conference sessions would be more for those who support districts’ technology infrastructures rather than classroom practices. I ended my CETPA experience with three great teacher/TOSA presentations:

  • Is Drive Driving You Crazy? – Rebecca Maas’s session was a reminder of why it’s a good idea to introduce teachers to Google Drive before jumping into Docs/Slides/Sheets/Forms/Drawings. When she mentioned color coding folders, for instance, a teacher shared that he has students color any shared folders red. Great tip!
  • Make Writing: 3D Printing to Teach Literacy and Writing – Teacher/TOSA/Edutopia columnist Heather Wolpert-Gawron and Principal Matt Arnold made visible an often missing component of the “maker movement”: writing. They shared their excitement over a significant transition (in attitude and learning) they witnessed with a group of disengaged LTELLs (Long Term English Language Learners), sparked by opportunities to explore what they could do with a 3D printer that happened to be housed in their English class. The slideshow provides a window into the depth, breadth, and awesomeness of the project.
  • Beyond the Classroom Walls: Developing Globally Aware Youth – I didn’t actually attend Karen Larson’s session, as it was during the Student Showcase, but I was able to connect with her before the keynote. My big takeaway from Karen’s slideshow and our conversation was the Partnership for 21st Century Learning’s K-12 Global Competence Guide, which provides teachers with a structure (via “indicators”) for viewing Common Core Standards and typical grade-level projects through a global lens.

The CETPA Conference switches locations each year, with next year’s event in San Diego. Based on my first impression, when CETPA returns to Sacramento, I plan to attend all four days.

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