Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Experience with Storyboards

As the year ends, I am re-posting my five most popular 2011 musings.  This one was ranked #1 in page views, so I am quite pleased to reshare it.  It was inspired by my favorite assignment from last school  year.

I've gone head with my plan to assign pairs of my 10th grade American Government students the task of creating a one minute political commercial for a real person of note in our state who is not presently a political figure. Here's the assignment:

As you can see, I have not emphasized the production values of the video.  In fact, the video concept will "count" for as much as the the actual solution.  Here's the catch--  I have never taught the skill before.  Fortunately,  I found the following video:

One of the resources included with the video is a template for actually completing a storyboard.  At first glance I judged the template to be more detailed than needed for this assignment.  But as it turned out those details helped smany students develop very tight plans. Here's a link to the storyboard template:

I was pleased with most of the plans.  There were some obvious gaffes, such as no plan to mention that the person featured was seeking political office!  So I was able to head these off at the pass.  More significantly, I could offer feedback about visual story telling and plans for shots which might present too much difficulty (or violate trademarks).

Hopefully I will be able to publish some sample ads, soon! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Web Tools, iPads, email,and the Classroom

Screen Capture from TC Web Mail Usage Declines . . . .
As the year ends, I am re-posting my five most popular 2011 musings.  This one was ranked #2 in page views. (Frankly, I have no idea why, other than the title).

Matching Learning goals and Web Tools
In Leonardo’s Laptop, Ben Shneiderman provides teachers with a powerful framework, Collect-Relate-Create-Donate (CRCD), for designing student-centered learning opportunities using computers.

QR Codes + Wikipedia
QR codes – barcodes for the internet – have been around for decades and the technology is increasingly being used in everything from street advertising to museum object labels. QRpedia takes the concept one step further to allow a single QR code to send you seamlessly to the mobile-friendly version of any Wikipedia article in your own language.

How Can Web 2.0 Curation Tools Be Used in the Classroom?

 Just as Web 2.0 has expanded the traditional role of publisher to almost anyone, the role of curator now too is changing. Anyone can “curate” online material, pulling together their own collections.

What's best: an iPad or a laptop for college use?The technology options for college students continue to grow with netbooks and tablet PCs as potential alternatives to the traditional laptop computer.
Web Mail Usage Declines 59% among Teens
In introducing his messaging platform last November Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said one of the primary motivations behind Messages product strategy was that teenagers have given up on email, “High school kids don’t use email, they use SMS a lot. People want lighter weight things like SMS and IM to message each other.”
Remembering an Inspiring Teacher
Mr. Criche was part of a powerhouse English department at Lake Forest High School, a school that, I believe, knew then and knows now how to treat its teachers. Nationwide, almost half of our teachers quit before their fifth year, driven away by poor conditions and low pay, but in Lake Forest, the teachers were and are able to make careers and lives out of the profession.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Project Booth

As the year ends, I am re-posting my five most popular 2011 musings.  This one was ranked #3 in page views and recalls meeting two of the finest educators I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

In January, i spent six weeks in Texas,  first consulting with the Belton ISD and then working with the CBL Implementation team.  It was an exciting experience with extraordinary networking opportunities.  I workshopped with CBL teams from Ohio and Illinois.  I hung out with with folks who are impacting education on the international scene and halls of Washington D.C.  But my most precious hour of conversation was with Mary Kay Zeeb and Mark Labouchere from the Arizona School of the Arts. 

The three of us were assigned to give a fifteen minute presentation on the potential role of video reflection in CBL.  We took care of this in about five minutes-- since we discovered that we were completely "on the same page."  But then, we simply chatted about education and how our commitment to CBL had impacted us and our students.  They were so far ahead of me in terms of immersion and experiment with the CBL process.

They have given me permission to share one such endeavor.  Their students were embarking on challenges and had just gained access to two classroom Macbooks.  The teachers wished to record student reflections using Photobooth, but the logistics posed a challenge.  The teacher solution?  Give the students a challenge to create reflection booths.  How fun!  Their idiosyncratic endeavors are pictured here. And then play the movie to see the booths in action.  Already, since meeting with Mark and Mary Kay, I am even more inclined to turn critical challenges over to the student or teacher teams I am mentoring, rather than simply try to resolve the challenge myself.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Challenge Based Learning Trifecta

"Woo-Hoo" Flickr CC by JAKULL
As the year ends, I am re-posting my five most popular 2011 musings.  This one was ranked #4 in page views.
I have been more or less slogging away at the CBL wars for the past few weeks.  In some instances, particularly the professional development sessions (PCGs), it has been difficult to gauge how well things have been coming together.  So it was really nice today to find signs of success on three fronts:

* For the second consecutive day, staff planning for next year reported on some really interesting CBL projects.  In most cases they have moved from broad issues to logistics.  For the first time it is obvious that some really cool projects will be rocking the joint next year.

* Today, two "Fight Apathy" teams made presentations to their classmates on solutions for making teenagers care about politics.  The presentations were so sharp that the other teams  left the room chattering about how they needed an extra meeting or two to raise the bar on their own presos. (Yes!).

* A first AP Gov & Politics team presented to classmates both on their solutions and their panel experience.  This was very cool--  students had completely integrated the feedback from the "experts" on their panel into revised solutions.  Presenting to the class gave them a formal way of processing and owning the feedback.

This week has suddenly brightened up!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Apathy Vanquished!

As the year ends, I am re-posting my five most popular 2011 musings.  This one is a personal favorite and was ranked #5 in page views.
Thanks to a Challenge Based Learning project that truly rocked, for at least one night, "teenage apathy" was brought to its knees.

Lynn Waldsmith, Mike Gruber and I challenged our students to defeat teenage apathy in our English and American Government classes.  These ninth and tenth graders worked several weeks to develop their solutions,
implement them, and explicate them to classmates.  But tonight, all seventeen teams staged a Fight Apathy Fair.  It was the kids who suggested exhibiting the solutions in the evening in a science fair like venue.  In addition to inviting the entires school, each girls was required to email five other persons, personally.

Some 200 friends, teachers, uncles, cousins, neighbors, moms and dads milled through the lobby.  There was a buzz in the joint.  And the students were excited!  The attendance from our students was close to 100% and they were actually thanking us for the chance to present from 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm.  The parents were delighted and were shocked to learn that this was a first time event.  We teachers were shocked too.  As Mike remarked the positives far surpassed anything we might have imagined.

If I have had doubts about the power of CBL, they were vanquished too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some Great New CBL Resources

The new CBL community site replete with two Mercy challenges
I've been on a bit of a Challenge Based Learning sabbatical.  Distracted by learning a new job and ramping up projects like M-Hub and Mercy 2.0, I haven't participated in any CBLs this school year.  Fortunately, CBL has been moving along quite well despite my neglect:

Mark Nichols has been working determinedly to bring The Challenge Based Learning Community site to fruition.  It's a beauty.  The site is utterly packed with top resources and it offers challenges that anyone can join.  It includes forums for discussing CBL and a place where anyone can post a challenge and find teammates.  It is gratifying to know that Mercy has contributed two of the challenges that seed the site.  Along with my AP classes' "Strengthen Democracy" challenge (albeit a lite version) our pilot teams' "Design a Better Cafeteria Experience" may be found.

*The New Media Consortium's new research report is also available.  Mercy, along with the other 19 schools in the pilot, were examined, and the analysis is now published online.

* The  report may be accessed at the community site.  But is also is available on the branded Apple site, where the  a set of webinar resources may also be found.  We now have some truly awesome go-to CBL sites.

Incidentally, I will soon be making up for lost personal time with CBL.  In a month , I'll be launching my big 2012 project.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Move to iPad and Google Apps

Flickr CC Photo bydavidAigner
This week we announced a major change to our educational technology plan at MHS.  As part of what we are calling "Mercy 2.0", we are moving to the iPad as our 1:1 device and we will be adopting Google Apps. Among the reasons:

The iPad’s functions fall more in line with current staff and student usage than our current device.  What is more, the 400,000 apps available on the iPad (for a relative pittance) offer great opportunities for instructional customization and exploration.  

The cost of a Mercy education should be measurably reduced for new students.  Furthermore, our Wi-Fi system can accommodate the iPad, immediately, meaning that we will not incur major infrastructure costs in the transition.

The iPad is light, has a battery life that makes it through our school day, and boots up/shuts down almost instantly.  We expect that the students will need little time “learning” how to use the device.

The iPad is a terrific e-reader.  The lack of digital materials available on our laptops has been (along with cost) a chronic disappointment with our program.  With e-texts becoming more available, the iPad is suited to to lightening book bags.

Needless to say, these major changes will help supply the Drive-thru with content in 2012!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Students Give Glimpse of the Future of the Book

Slide from AP Gov update to "Media" chapter.
As I explained in Re-enlisting as a Digital Teacher,  until recently I have not been certain I would continue teaching my AP American Government and Politics class.  This ambiguity caused me to stay with an edition of my e-text a year longer than I otherwise might have done.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I turned the datedness of the textbook into a group challenge project for the students.  The chapters selected were "Public Opinion", "The Media", and "Elections". Each of the three groups did a nice job.  In fact the results were so satisfactory I think I would consider it for any conventional textbook

That's the catch-- "conventional textbook".  Because my students demonstrated what a contemporary textbook should be.  It should not be a static chunk of information.  Instead it should be a continually updated resource that one enjoys through a subscription or license.  The kids provided charts, videos, and placed them on slides that were superior to the ancillaries provided by the publisher.  Shouldn't these ancillaries be updatee as well?  I know the textbook model will evolve to become a more dynamic resource.  But sometimes I wonder if I will see this happen in my lifetime.  At least I got to see how it might be with the help of my kids.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quick Take-out from the Drive-thru

"It is true that technology can be dirty. It is true that technology itself isn't going to fix our problems. Technology really isn't a "tool" anymore. Technology is a context. Context produces culture. This happened before back at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The context of industry produced all sorts of pollutions and evils; it also produced the medical revolution and eventually gave lift to the social mobility of the lower and middle classes to attend colleges and universities. In the end, it was the decisions people made that -- both for much better and much worse -- shaped the century that was."  -- Shelly Blake-Plock

"Take-out" by permission of americanvirus
If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up way too much space. -- Anonymous

When I look at my kids, I’m hoping to see entrepreneurs, ready to create and add value and be able to create a living on their guile and grit and passion. Not sure I see that yet. Hoping their mom and I will rub off on them.  But, their schools helpin’ them with that? Uh…notsomuch. They’re preparing them to work for someone else. After all, that’s what they do in class.
Will Richardson

I tend to think that the future of computing devices will be BYOD — Bring Your Own Device. It’ll be that way for businesses. It’ll be that way for schools . . . . But if that’s the case, then schools are going to have to look for digital content that is available across platform. That could mean looking for DRM-free resources, or at least for resources that aren’t restricted to one particular platform or file format. That could mean turning to Web apps over native apps." Audrey Watters
"Who dares to teach must never cease to learn." John Cotton Dana

“The question that gets asked about technology, the one that is almost always precisely the wrong question is, “How does this advance help our business?  The correct question is, “how does this advance undermine our business model and require us/enable us to build a new one?”  Seth Godin

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On iPads, Fenway Park, Google Maps and other Links

Flickr CC by copelaes
Major Medical Library Closing . . . . Moving to Digital
The William H. Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, will close its doors to patrons on January 1, 2012. But the library as an information resource is not closing; it is just moving completely online.

A Head Teacher Writes . . . 
My idea is for the school to invest more money so that each child can walk around while using their pencils, and that they can eventake them home with them! Yes, I know it's an extremely radical idea, and that's the very reason I am receiving so much opposition. Some of my teaching staff are arguing that we could better spend the money on more chalk for the blackboards. Others are warning that children will either damage the pencils or worse, lose them if they take them out of the school. Pencils are meant to be used for education, they say, not for fun.

Google Maps the Indoors
Google Maps 6.0, available to Android users, will provide access to indoor layouts for a few dozen locations, so shoppers and travelers can find their way around without having to ask for directions.

10 Apps for Working Easily with PDFs on iPad
I got sent a form the other day that the sender needed filled out and sent back immediately. Fortunately for them they were using an app that allowed me to tap on the form, type in the required information and send it back. Many apps give you the ability to write anywhere on the PDF.

Fenway Park or the Astrodome?
I'm not interested in relevant. I'm not looking for the trendiest tools. I'm not out to find the latest research from a collage artist like Marzano. I'm not peppering my lessons with the latest pop culture references to prove just how insanely hip I am (not that hip if I use hip, unless I'm a hipster using hip ironically).

Tell Me Again How iPad Demand is Waning . . . .
Whitmore came away from his Black Friday checks convinced iPad sales are tracking roughly in line with his estimate: 14 million for the December quarter.
Seems those iPad concerns were a bit overblown.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On the Brink X 3

Flickr CC by Kate Tomlinson
Today presents the ultimate in narcissistic Drive-thru posts.  But I have technology preoccupations on all fronts.

At work our Technology Plan (which I refer to as MHS 2.0) is coming to a head.  It includes a review of our 1:1 device, department, cloud hosting, curriculum, bookstore.  It's very comprehensive and we are working like mad to pull all of our information together.

M-Hub has come to fruition.  A major email blast is going to all of our alumnae and the students are preparing to crunch the data over Christmas break.  In addition they will be officially launching the site at our January 18, 2012 staff meeting.

On a personal front, I am migrating contacts, bookmarks, calendars and more to iCloud.  I've been procrastinating a bit on this one because one of my major applications was not suited for Lion, but I've resolved that issue.

Almost ready to pull the trigger on all three and more than a little nervous about all three!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Baker's Half-Dozen

Flickr CC Photo by Lesleyk
"If you're not astonishing the kids, they won't be astonishing you back!"

"The slow adoption of digital textbooks by students doesn’t necessarily mean that textbooks will be the last bastion of print. But it does highlight the ways in which students’ needs aren’t being met yet by digital content providers. That means there’s still a huge opportunity here to reshape what the textbooks of the future look like. Openly licensed content, for example, could address students’ concerns about sharing. Better social tools could help meet their needs for social reading and learning. Open educational resources could provide free content, while an iTunes model of sorts — one that sold the “song” (or rather the chapter) rather than the “album” (the whole book) could save students money." -- Audrey Watters

 "I sense in the dismissal of digital technology not just nostalgia but a firm idea that these people — African Americans, gays, women, Anthony Weiner, theater people, the 'perverts' on Twitter — should not be making culture."--Virginia Heffernan-

In case you haven’t noticed, lots of people want to “blow up education” right now. And the monied interests are going to have much to say about which direction education takes from here. I know I’m sounding like a broken MP3 here, but the question once again is whether or not the focus moving forward will be on learning or test taking. --  Will Richardson

If a student is passionate about a topic, doesn’t it make sense to have that student study, really study, professionals who who are also passionate? -- Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun.” 
-- C.S. Lewis (via Colleen Rozman)

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