Muddling through the blogosphere

July 8, 2009
by blogwalker

Kathleen Yancey at NECC – Best session I did not attend

I should have known that Kathleen Yancey would pack ‘um in at NECC – and I should have been there early.  Try as I did, I could not persuade the ISTE door person to let me in.  But I lucked out….Sandy Hayes taped (with permission) “The Yancey’s” whole session. And Carla Beard blogged the session.

Live from NECC 2009 – Kathleen Yancey from Gail Desler on Vimeo.

What can I add about a session I did not attend, besides the above snippet?…How about posting NCTE’s 10 Belief’s About the Teaching of Writing (another gem shared by Sandy Hayes)?!

July 1, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Alan November on “The Student as a Contributor”

It’s pretty much a no-brainer that students, not their teachers, should own the learning that’s happening in classrooms. But how do we make that shift? Alan November has a list of “jobs” that will help transfer contol to the learners:

  1. Screencasting – Put students in charge of producing tutorials for other children. With the research to show that a different voice explaining a concept can have an impact, why not ask our students to produce tutorials across the curriculum. Free screencasting tools such as Jing make this job very accessible to students. Example: Eric Marcos’ 6th graders’ math tutorials.
  2. Podcasting– Don’t underestimate what younger students can learn by telling sotires about what was taught/learned in class last week! Example: Bob Sprankle’s classroom.
  3. Google Custom Search Engine – I’ve been meaning to explore this tool, so I just started a custom search for the Change Writers’ project, an on-going collaborative community of 4th grade readers and writers. I loved Alan’s suggestion that teachers organize a “search engine design team.” My only concern in enlisting students to contribute is Googles’ 18 years or older requirement for using their tools. But what kid wouldn’t love sharing the rotating task of “question answerer”?!
  4. Goggle Docs Class Scribes- Research show that kids who take notes “live” do better than kids who take notes “written.”  Assign  three class scribes per week, who are in charge of producting “perfect notes.” Teacher structures by creating the headings and then assigning students to specific headings. Example: Daren Kurapatwa’s Pre-Cal 405– features a daily scribe to share learning journey into pre calculus.
  5. Ultimate Job = Contributing to the world – We need to teach kids there’s a larger world!

    1. – “Loans that Change Lives” – Based on the concept of micro-lending, shows entrepreneurship around the world. Teacher contributes a one-time, recyclable $25. Students then research and decide which village to fund.  Teaches kids to actually invest in, for instance, the rain forest. Tons of content and topics for students interested in making a difference.  Check out the wiki –
    2. Pitol House, New Orleans – This project, created by 3rd grade teacher Natalie Watts and her students, is an example of students creating a legacy.
  6. Teach children to find work of other children – Challenge your students to be curriculum researchers, which will ultimately leade to their owning whatever the assingment is. Thomas Friedman has a recent piece about American kids being at a deficit because they can’t see work other children around the world are doing.Fifth graders, for instance, reading Number the Stars, if allowed to search YouTube, would find projects such as

An essential piece in shifting to student ownership is promoting the life-long learning piece…

What a great final session to NECC 2009! Time to head to the airport.

July 1, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Alan November on Designing Globally Connected Assignments

Alan opened the session with a look at where technology is going in the future, via a TED session – Oh my, in mass production of “wearable tech” won’t cost more than a cell phone.

Ideas for designing rigorous and globally connected assignments:

Suggestion 1 – Teach students ethics of content development – have students create code of ethics. Critical piece – teaching kids how to behave when they’re not in school.

Suggestion 2 – Think about and question what skills can we teach today that will outlast any technology? The real revolution is not technology, it’s information and global communication Implication: what’s flowing through wires is more important than the wires. But teachers need to ask what information do we need and what relationships.

Suggestion 3 – Globalize the curriculum. Question: Are there any points in the curriculum for students to think globally? (ie, Teaching American Revolution – only from American point of view? or ask students to find sources in England that deal with the American Revolution. But teach them how to find pieces written from a British perspective. Tech Tip: Try Google trick: “General Gage” “American Revolution”. Coming up with some “404 Not Found”s? No problem. Head to the wayback machine to get archived articles. Alan used the Wayback Machine to bring up article on General Gage written in 2006 by Thomas Ash. When you show students a different point of view they are more engaged. Nothing like a little dissonance to enliven the research process!

Suggestion 4 – Design assignments where you cannot plagiarize – No more “go to the Internet and get a source”; instead “find 5 different university viewpoints that differ from textbook.” Pedagogy trumps technology. Assignment design should be built into staff development.

Suggestion 5 – Every department should find assignments that require a global view. For example, what if assignments were so compelling that students would even work on them beyond the school day? Student News/Action Network – started by group of kids at Washington International School. We need to give kids environments that are so globally connected that they will want to keep going back – even after the school year.

Session Gem: Ownership of learning needs to shift to students. How about starting the school year by identifying 10 most difficult concepts to teach in your subject area. Ask students to come up with the solutions. Oh, wow, so simple, so powerful – and would work across the curriculum!!

June 29, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Media Literacy with Jamie McKenzie

I’m joining Jamie McKenzie‘s last session of the day: teaching media literacy. We’re looking at the of wikilobbying (coined by Stephen Colbert – whose video we’re watching, which has unfortunately been removed from YouTube). So the question is “how do we alert our students to how Wikipedia works?

Phtoshopping Reality – Activity: Show Evolution video from Dove. What question of import would we ask students when sharing this video? Well then, checkout the slob evolution version. How about comparing these two versions to the Green Peace version Dove Onslaught(er).

“Media literacy deserves a prominent placement in district curriculum documents, especially in English/language arts classes” – Jamie is following up this statement with Dove Onslaught video with discussion on deconstructing video and ads. Question: how does “crescendo” (which is a film technique) play a part in this video? Music gets louder, pictures get increasingly horrifying.

More Media Literacy Resources:

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at Jamie McKenzie’s work. Even at a glance, I can see that the websites he has shared are rich with content and thought-provoking ideas.

June 29, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Slam Dunk Research via PowerPoint

I’m drawn to this session because the write-up states “model has your students investigating and answering higher-level questions.” The presenters are from Deep creek Magnet Middle School, outside of Baltimore.

A slam dunk model has 5 basic steps:

  1. questioning
  2. information sources
  3. activity
  4. assessment activity
  5. enrichment (extended) activities

Here’s a link to the session wiki –

Why PowerPoint? To help ‘late adopter’ teachers. Jamie McKenzie has already created the PowerPoint template – The idea is to make it easy for teachers to organize the project for students, including providing the links.

Session was a good combination of Jamie McKenzie resources and a truly simple way to introduce late adopters to using technology (which hopefully filters down to their students).

June 29, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Scratch Community

Mitch Resnick, from MIT, is leading the Scratch session. Scratch is all about creating, building, and inventing – to be makers of things. You can’t be fluent in digital media just by interacting; you need to also be able to create.

Bridging Divides:

  • making and interacting
  • art and engineering
  • creativity and systematicity
  • individual and community
  • inside and outside school: Reading, for example
  • physical virtual

Scratch initiative – allows you to create interactive media – and share – via YouTube type website. Everyday an average of one new project a minute is posted (12 -13 year olds the highest users, but extends from age 7-50.) Program allows you to download existing projects and adapt to make personal. Remixing has become a cornerstone. Lots of shared expertise.

My Red Neptune -This young Scratch developer is thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, working collaboratively. Probably 3 most important skills for succeeding in 21st century.

Scratch kids are becoming computational thinkers.The Scratch team wants to promote possibilities for everyone to think computationally. To be a computational thinker, you need to be a computational creator. Sample: Rapa Nui – science fair project measuring response times. Tons of cross-curricular ways. Checkout Expo Elementary gallery!

Scratch broadens the range of participatory storytelling. Oh, wow, so many possibilities for engaging and stretching learners…and Scratch is free! So how do we get the word out to more educators? Join the Scratch community of educators at

June 29, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Jamie McKenzie on Synergy and Collaboration

So glad to see that Jamie McKenzie is offering three sessions at NECC. It’s been way too long since my last visit to His opening session is on synergy and collaboration.

Synthesis – Do we actually teach it? Have we been taught how to synthesize ? Yet we expect students to be able to synthesize – Check out De Bono’s Thinking Hats for way of introducing “sideways explorations.” We need to equip students with creative thinking tools, such as thinking Box, Visual Thesaurus, and Scamper.

We’re on to Wikipedia, checking out the entry for educational technology – which is written in “legalize” terms. Jamie’s jumped in to do some re-writing. How often do we encourage our students to do re-writes in Wikipedia. (IP addresses in my district are blocked from editing in Wikipedia due to students posting inappropriate information regarding their middle school.) Ask students to check articles for currency.

Handout for session available at

June 28, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Best Practices in Fair Use for 21st Century Educators

I’m in my first workshop for NECC 2009 – Renee HobbsFair Use for Educators session. With copyright being such a huge and complex issue, I’m hoping to get a better handle on all those sticky issues teachers deal with increasingly as they led their students onto online learning and producing of content.

Joining Renee Hobbs are Joyce Valenza, who just shared the wiki for this event –; Mike RobbGrieco, and Kristen Hokanson. There’s even a link to the session handout!

Renee has kicked off the session by assuring us that by end of the three hours all our questions on copyright will be answered:-)

She’s starting by walking us through her slide presentation, which I’m annotating below:

  • What is media literacy? “It’s the sharing of meaning through symbolic forms.”
  • Question: What’s the purpose of copyright? Partner activity
    • owner’s rights
    • ability to make a profit
    • other?
  • Purpose of copyright is to promote creativity, innovation and spread of knowledge – Article 1, Section 8 US Constitution. So where did our misunderstandings come from?
  • Section 110 copyright law – allows teachers to share entire video despite “for home use only” statement. Section 107 1976 – “The right to use copyrighted materials freely without payment or permission for purposes such as ‘criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”
  • How Teachers Cope:
    • see no evil
    • close the door
    • hyper-comply
  • How does fair use apply to using popular and mass media? We’re watching the Center for Social Media video – -overview – which I watched for the first time last fall – and realized I could no longer use Hall Davidson’ niffy two-page chart. It’s all about “Transformativeness” = adding new meaning and value to an original works.
  • Myth buster: There are no cases of educators being sued for using copyrighted materials for teaching and learning who have actually sued. “Reasonable standard” of fair use – exempts educators liability if you made a reasonable attempt to comply with copyright as pertains to educational purposes.
  • Fair use reasoning in action: “When a user of copyrighted materials adds value to, or re-purposes materials for a use different from that for which it was originally intended, it will likely be considered transformative use; it will also likely be considered fair use” – Joyce Valenza. This is huge piece of the fair use puzzle!

Remix in Eduction – Mike RobbGrieco – also with Renee at Temple University – “Our students are fully immersed in remix culture. Remix is a way to make sense of our culture – but also well-suited for commentary, critique, and democratic exchange.”

  • Questions to ask: (and the video is incorporated into lesson – p 17 of handout).
    • benefit to society vs. cost to copyright older
    • transformativeness (is purpose transformed: is context transformed?
    • What is the effect on potential markets?
    • What is the amount of source text used

Back to Renee – How do you grab clips from DVDs – which are encrypted with the purpose of preventing copying? Renee went to Library of Congress Copyright Office regarding ability to de-encript DVD clips. She’ll know in October if her request will become a reality. And she emphasizes that “If we don’t claim our right, they’ll erode into ‘pay for click.'”

Kristen Hokanson – Oh, my… Watch Kristen’s video on her Upper Merrian Case Study. She’s also created a PDF worksheet to guide teachers. Check out her hands-on Scenarios! We broke into groups to work with the cards, which generated very focused conversations. Great stuff!!

This workshop is the only fee-based one I’ve signed up for. It was worth every penny! I actually feel that I have a handle on fair use for educators – and am looking forward to taking this training and resources back to my district.

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