Flat Stanley: The 21st Century Version

I thought I had helped bring Flat Stanley into the 21st Century when I helped my daughter’s class take digital pictures of their Stanleys and plot them on a Google Map.

But this company, The Flat Stanley Project,  has taken this portable cardboard figure geography project to a whole new level.

From the company: Flat Stanley is a beloved children’s/education franchise that is about to have a new life online. Walden Media (Chronicles of Narnia) just announced a movie deal for it, in fact. Flat Stanley is having a renaissance. It’s already in official use at 4,500+ schools across 88 countries, and is part of the formal curriculum for geography in most districts.

So, as with so many other projects and subjects we work with , there’s an app for it. You can find it live in the App store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flat-stanley/id382161936?mt=8).

How the App works (from the company):

Children can quickly sign up and bring Stanley with them wherever they go. In minutes, they can customize their own Stanley (skin and hair color, facial expressions and clothing), take photographs and insert Stanley into them with either front or rear-facing camera, write their character’s biography and “like,” comment on and share photos with their friends across the Flatter World network of friends and family.

The app also plots Stanleys near a particular user on a world map and sends updates on where their friends and families’ Stanleys travel. It’s a quick and easy way for kids to see the world and make new friends outside of their hometown with a familiar and friendly character leading the way. To encourage exploring Stanleys outside of one’s network, the app unlocks special pictures from exciting locations.

In many ways, Flat Stanley was the original social network – it just existed offline, in homes and schools, transported by stamp and envelope, instead of electronically. Our goal is to preserve the same values, and the same goals that we’ve always had, while extending our reach, and enriching the experience overall.
The new app gives parents and their children the opportunity to insert a Stanley from their collection into any photo, chronicling the experience, sharing it with others, and continuing a conversation ongoing around that location, or activity – all the while telling stories and beginning new adventures.

NEIT2010 – The NYSAIS Education & Information Technology Conference

I’m really looking forward to presenting  at the NYSAIS Education & Information Technology Conference on November 10. I put a lot of time and effort into the topic I am speaking on and I am anxious to have the conversation that is planned afterward. We’ll be using the World Cafe protocol to organize the conversation. I am confident that Alex Ragone, Arvind Grover and  Barbara Swanson are willing to help with such a large group.

The World Cafe Protocol

  1. Seat four or five people at small Café-style tables or in conversation clusters.
  2. Set up progressive (usually three) rounds of conversation of approximately 20-30 minutes each.
  3. Questions or issues that genuinely matter to your life, work or community are engaged while other small groups explore similar questions at nearby tables.
  4. Encourage both table hosts and members to write, doodle and draw key ideas on their tablecloths or to note key ideas on large index cards or placemats in the center of the group.
  5. Upon completing the initial round of conversation, ask one person to remain at the table as the “host” while the others serve as travelers or “ambassadors of meaning.” The travelers carry key ideas, themes and questions into their new conversations.
  6. Ask the table host to welcome the new guests and briefly share the main ideas, themes and questions of the initial conversation. Encourage guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations—listening carefully and building on each other’s contributions.
  7. By providing opportunities for people to move in several rounds of conversation, ideas, questions, and themes begin to link and connect. At the end of the second round, all of the tables or conversation clusters in the room will be cross-pollinated with insights from prior conversations.
  8. In the third round of conversation, people can return to their home (original) tables to synthesize their discoveries, or they may continue traveling to new tables, leaving the same or a new host at the table. Sometimes a new question that helps deepen the exploration is posed for the third round of conversation.
  9. After several rounds of conversation, initiate a period of sharing discoveries and insights in a whole group conversation. It is in these town meeting-style conversations.It is in these town meeting-style conversations that patterns can be identified,
    collective knowledge grows, and possibilities for action emerge.

I will be missing Liz Davis, as we have used a variation of this Protocol together at Educon. But I know I will be seeing here there again in January.

I love, Love, LOVE Technology, but…

Source: http://muskokagirl.ca

I recently received an e-mail from a private school teacher down in South Jersey. She wrote that she had heard me speak at the NJETI conference at Stockton this past May.  She said that although her school technology has come far, they are still behind. The school does not have a network, Wi-Fi, or even school e-mail for the teachers.

I want to change that!!!!

Teri Matus wants to get the computers in the lab networked. She wants to be able to use free resources like Google Apps. She wants to get the staff communicating. She wrote, “I want to change that!!!” after she listed what was not happening in her school.

I am sure that there are lots of enriching and engaging projects and activities going on in Teri’s school. I am sure that the students are immersed in learning. But are they having experiences with the technology they will need in higher ed and in their careers?

I suggested the following three sites as sources for funding. But there has to be more.

  1. http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/grants
  2. http://www.donorschoose.org/
  3. http://www.bbycommunications.com/crnew/teach.asp

I don’t think that the need here is the hardware. The need is for support. Teri’s school needs someone to create a network (including e-mail and Wi-Fi) and then to maintain that network.  Please help Teri and I find outlets for private schools to get technology funding. If you would leave a link, name of an organization, or even a success story as a comment, perhaps we can help get this private school, and its students, better prepare for their futures.

Mystery Class – A Collaborative Project

Barbara De Santis from Sayerville Public Schools told me about the Mystery Class project. I hadn’t seen it before and the more I read about it, the more I was impressed at how well organized and sustainable it could be in the classroom. I have been recommending Jen Wagner’s collaborative projects for a couple of years and will continue to as the teachers and students that I work with LOVE them and I think they are fantastic, but this was one I had not yet seen.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xoe/84584059/

Mystery Class

“In this global game of hide-and-seek, students search to uncover the secret locations of ten “mystery” sites hiding around the Earth. To guide the investigation, they track changes in day length at the mystery sites and at their hometown, and use other “clues” along the way. As they take this inspiring journey, students unlock the essential questions behind the reasons for seasons and the dramatic changes in day length that result.”


Think about how many ways we can tie this into what we teach in our classrooms. I believe that I would be able to tie this into pretty much every content area. I know you probably have questions about how to participate and the calendar and schedule of events. You’ll be relieved to know that the website is very easy to navigate and I am confident that you’ll be able to find the answers to your questions. There’s even a Frequently Asked Questions section if you’re having trouble finding the right section to look in.

Please let us know if you’ve participated in Mystery Class in the past. Share your experience here as a comment to encourage others to give it a try with their students.

7 Steps to a Twitter MakeOver

TwitterMakeover

If this visual looks familiar to you then you are
either in need of a Twitter Makeover or know someone who is.

There are ten items that people might look at when they check out your Twitter page to decide if they want to include you in their personal learning network (PLN).

1. Don’t go with the default Twitter background. I’m not saying you have to go and upload a background from Twitterbackgrounds.com, but at the very least, click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Design tab and then select from one of the preset Themes. Click “save changes” and you will have a nice new background for your Twitter home page.

2. We know the Twitter bird is cute and that it comes in several different colors, but nothing says you are a Twitter newbie more than the Twitter default avatar. All you need to do is have a picture saved somewhere. It can be on your hard drive, it can be on your shared drive or a thumb drive. It can even be on a photo CD. You just need a picture of SOMETHING. Then click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Picture tab and then click on the Browse button. Locate the picture that you want to use and then click the Open button. Click Save and you are all set with a personalized avatar.

3. What goes under your name in the top, right-hand corner on your Twitter page, is your location. You need to let folks know where you are. What country is a great start. The more specific you are, the better. To fill out your location, go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down for the Location slot. You will answer the question “Where in the world are you?”.

4. Underneath your location will be your “one line bio”. This is so important as this is going to be where you will indicate that you are an educator. If you do not fill this information out, most educators will not follow you. Actually, most educators are looking to see in what area of education you teach. Be as specific as you can. To fill out your “one line bio” go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down. Twitter allows you up to 160 characters for this.

5. Tweet something interesting. Are you looking to develop a reciprocal relationship or are you looking to lurk? If you are looking to lurk, you can actually just use Twitter Search and you don’t have to sign up for a Twitter account. But if you are looking to develop a PLN in the Twitterverse, then you have to start contributing. Tweeting that you are “sitting in a workshop” or “trying out Twitter” isn’t really a productive contribution. You might want to consider Tweeting something that you have recently bookmarked or seen someone else Tweet. Also, you can Tweet the URL to a website that you have used with your students or colleagues and say why you used it.

6. Find people to follow. The people that you follow tells a lot about what you are interested in. Your potential Followers may scan the list to get an idea of what you are interested in. Consider using the following sites to help you find other educators to follow:

7. Don’t protect your updates. If you do this, potential followers can’t see who you are.  This is what you look like to them and as someone new to Twitter it says you are not looking to be a part of a reciprocal relationship.

protectedWell, I was going to write up a list of 10 steps, but it turns out it only takes 7. I met with most of the teachers from the Center‘s 21st Century Learning Initiative for a second time this past week after having them use Twitter and Diigo for about a month and decided that we would do “Twitter Makeovers” on many of them. What a great group of educators willing to try new tools to learn and share!!