I really liked the title of Cathy Nelson’s post yesterday, “You Are All Winners in My Book“. We have our blogrolls, we have our Google Readers or our Bloglines. The fact that you, the reader of this post, have taken the time to immerse yourself in the Edublogosphere, to keep up with educational technology trends, is an accomplishment. And if you have taken it a step farther and left feedback on the blogs you have read. If you are a contributor to the Edublogosphere – well, thank you for your help. Your opinion matters. Take it one step farther – for those of you who have committed the time to create and maintain your own blogs, to paraphrase Cathy Nelson, you all deserve recognition for your accomplishments.
These past 27 days, many of us have been participating in Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger Challenge. Each day we have been faced with a new blog-related challenge from Teach42. I’ll admit that I have not completed them all. Some because I was not interested and some I’ll have to go back and work on during the month of December. (Please see previous post.) One major thing that Steve’s challenge did for me that did not make an immediate or noticeable change to ThumannResources.com was getting me to read and comment on more blogs. I’ve added to the number of blogs I subscribe to, I’ve increased the number of things I look for in a blog and therefor, it is without further adieu….
My daughters get confused sometimes about what I actually teach. Even though they’ve been to my office, they know sometimes I’m in a school teaching. They know I also go to school every Tuesday night. So they never quite know how to ask me about my day. Sometimes they ask me how work was, sometimes how school was and more recently they have caught on a bit and have started asking me what age the people I worked with that day were. But that can get tricky too.
This week was long. But amazing.
Monday AM – I spent my morning here working with middle school students and their teachers on video podcasting. Last year I had helped their wonderful Technology Coordinator, Linda Epps, with the list of software and hardware she would need to purchase to start video podcasting with some of the classes in the school. The grant that Ms. Epps wrote included, as we discussed, professional development for the teachers involved, including in-class coaching with the students. So, on Monday, as part of the final phase we storyboarded, recorded, found podsafe music and made the most of the 60 minute block. I saw four classes that day. One ELL, one math, one reading and one writing. By the end of the day we had established a plan for my return that coming Friday.
Monday PM – I left straight from the school and went into New York to check into The Pod Hotel. From there I took the subway to Google. Did you know that the footprint of the New York office is larger than 2 football fields? Anyway, I arrived between Eighth and Ninth avenues and 15th and 16th streets to meet with Mark Wagner, Cristin Frodella and Allison Merrick to help set of for the Google Teacher Academy the next day. We filled schwag bags, put out the teacher binders and did anyhting and everything to make sure that we were ready for the 59 prospective GCTS.
Monday 8PM – dinner with all above and the rest of the lead learners. We had a fantastic dinner and it was great to catch up with old friends and have a chance to get a acquainted with new ones.
Tuesday 7AM – 9:30PM Google Teacher Academy – It flew by. Before I knew it, the day was over. Each participant went through 6 tech tools rotations, 3 inspiring ideas, a tour of the Google offices, presentations by Cristin Frodella and Mark Wagner with regards to GCT responsibilities and details about Google Apps Education Edition as well as group activities, Office Hours with the Lead Learners and of course trips to the micro kitchens.
Wednesday AM – American Education Week – I’m lucky that I can work from home occasionally. I try to once a week to catch up on phone calls and e-mails and to be able to participate in my children’s education. On Wednesday morning from 9:35-10:20, parents of first grade students in my daughter’s school were invited to come in and observe a lesson. I was so impressed with my daughter’s teacher. She kept the students engaged and she obviously had varying levels of abilities in the room and worked her way around during the lesson to try to meet all of their needs. She was patient and nurturing and everything that my husband and I had been hoping for in a first grade teacher for our daughter. My daughter and I both enjoyed having each other there. My visit was extended when her Speech teacher came to get her and one of her classmates for their twice-weekly session. Bonus for me – an additional 40 minutes of school time. I followed the small group of three as they stopped to pick up two additional students and continued with them as they made their way to a small classroom (or closet). I appreciated the extra time with my little one and look forward to speaking with both of the teachers at parent-teacher conferences.
From Speech I was off to the Scholastic Book Fair and then a quick meeting with the building Principal to talk about the needs of the teachers involved in the Center’s 21st Century Learning Initiative.
Wednesday PM – E-mail, Google Reader, returning phone calls and prep for Thursday PM and Friday.
Thursday AM – I usually get to the my office on campus once a week. If I’m there a second time, it’s usually because I’m teaching a workshop in our lab. We had a quick meeting Thursday morning, one of consultants came in to borrow some software from me to install on her laptop (it was a legal install) and I tried to go through my snail mail. Thursday was also the Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Rutgers Faculty Dining Hall. So at 12:30, I headed over there with my colleagues and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.
Thursday PM – The 4th in a series of 6 after-school academies at a local (to my house, not to Rutgers) elementary school. At the superintendent’s request, I designed a series of 90 minute workshops to be held after school. One set was for the middle and high school teachers and another for the K-5 buildings. Today, I was excited as the teachers were coming prepared with pre-recorded audio to edit in Audacity and then upload to their Schoolwires pages. I knew the group of 10 or so would come in ready to work as they had been so enthusiastic the weeks prior and I had really enjoyed working with them. I was right. They all left that day with something published.
Thursday 7:30PM – I didn’t think my week could get any better, but it did. For an hour Thursday evening,
Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes and Alice Barr interviewed me on EdTechTalk. Their Seedlings show airs every Thursday night from 7:30-8:30. I usually listen to it on my iTouch, since that’s when I’m putting the kids to bed, but this time I listened live. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them. I hadn’t had the opportunity since BLC08. But I had spoken with Alice and Cheryl at the Google Teacher Academy on Tuesday and we spent some time going through the different events of the day. We also spoke some about Universal Design for Learning and how my Center has been working with some local school districts to bring UDL into NJ. I’m honored that Bob, Cheryl and Alice asked me to join them Thursday evening on Seedlings. I hope they’ll consider asking me back.
Friday – I traveled back to Orange Middle School. I worked with students and their teachers for four 80-minute blocks. The classes were all very different. I think the first may have been my favorite as the teacher was actually not there. I had known ahead of time that he was going to be out of the building, but I had wanted to make sure that were able to finish the project, so had offered to work with the students anyway. Did I mention that over half of them did not speak English? I had a great time. They were so welcoming. They were happy to have someone come in who wanted to work with them. I had a webcam with me and we were using the SMARTBoard and the SMART Recorder and they had a blast. We had to do more takes than usual, most likely because of the pronunciation issues, but other than that, I didn’t notice the language barrier. I modeled everything for them and they followed my lead. They were amazing.
The second and third classes were math and reading and we mostly edited. The filming had been done when I was in earlier in the week. But the students were amazed at how easy it was to mute sound, edit out bloopers and add credits to movies.
The last block was a writing class. The students had all written letters to President-Elect Obama and were filming the last of them as I walked in. I sat down with a few of them and modeled how to convert the videos once downloaded from the video camera and then we started bringing them into Windows Movie Maker. From there they really didn’t seem to need me. I was so happy to see that the students were ready to take on projects like this and that the teachers would be able to continue with their plans as the students would be able to implement them.
By the way, my youngest daughter is in the kitchen as I write this asking what grade I teach. My husband is trying to answer her. She’s five.
I can only hope that every week is as rewarding as this one has been. I consider myself very lucky.
You may be familiar with the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. The challenge of the game is to connect every film actor to Kevin Bacon in six cast lists or less. The game was developed in 1994 by some students at Pennsylvania’s Albright College. Today, it exists in several formats including a board game and a web site generator.
It all started in 1967 when Stanley Milgram, an American Sociologist decided to test what he termed the “small-world problem”. He randomly chose a few people in the mid-West and had them send packages to complete strangers in Massachusetts. Each package had an ultimate target destination, which Milgram estimated it would take hundreds of exchanges to reach, but the experiment proved him wrong. The packages arrived to their pre-determined recipients in (on average) between five and seven exchanges. According to articles published on Milgrim’s experiment, his findings inspired the phrase “six degrees of separation.”
Lots of others have jumped on this craze though. There’s John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation which premiered in 1990. There’s also the movie by the same title released in 1993.
In August 2008, Microsoft set out to test the theory of the 6 Degrees of Separation. Using data from their Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006 (equivalent to roughly half the world’s instant-messaging traffic at that time):
They looked at 180 billion different pairs of users in the database
They found that the average length to connect two users was 6.6 hops
78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer
6 Degrees of GCTs
There are now over 250 GCTs and we’re about to welcome 50 more. How are we all connected to each other? Before we used Social Bookmarking tools like Delicious and Diigo and Social Networking tools like Twitter, Plurk and Facebook would it have taken 6 hops to get to each other? Maybe. But I think we’ve got a really strong network of dedicated educators who need maybe two hops at the most to reach each other. I’m really proud to be part of such a strong community.
By the way, for those of you who were asking about the video I created for my application back in 2007, the old link is active, but it doesn’t come up in any search queries. I’ve re posted it here.
“Education, not mandatory blocking and filtering, is the best way to protect and prepare America’s students.”
Joint Statement of ISTE and CoSN Hailing Passage of Internet Safety Education Legislation
Recently, there have been some changes to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). In talking about CIPA with some local educators, I was surprised to find that many were not familiar with what CIPA calls for. So I thought I would take a couple of minutes to revisit how it might be affecting you and your district.
CIPA imposes a few requirements on any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or internal connections from the E-rate program. The purpose of the E-rate program is to make communications technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. Through E-rate, these schools get discounts on telecommunication services, Internet access, and internal connections.
Schools and libraries subject to CIPA:
Must certify that they have an Internet safety policy including protection (to block or filter) pictures that are obscene, pornographic or harmful to minors.
Are required to educate minors about appropriate online safety including cyberbullying and interacting with others on social networking sites and in chat rooms
Are required to adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors
Are required to adopt and address a policy implementing
access by minors to inappropriate content on the Internet
the safety and security of minors while using e-mail, chat rooms or any form of electronic communication
unlawful activities (hacking)
use of personal information regarding minors
restricting access of materials deemed harmful to minors
In a joint statement from ISTE’s and CoSN, they said “the Internet contains valuable content, collaboration and communication opportunities that can and do materially contribute to a student’s academic growth and preparation for the workforce”.
Are you educating your students on how to keep themselves safe while online? Are you taking advantage of the valuable content the Internet has to offer? Are you using the collaboration and communication opportunities to aide in your student’s academic growth and prepare them for the workforce?
Or are you (or possibly your technology department) just filtering out what has the wrong label, tag, keyword, or look to it.
I was most interested in which of the posts brought the most visitors. At no surprise to me, iTouch the Future…I Teach – Music had the most hits of the first 5 posts in the series. Listed below are the remaining four posts listed in order from greatest number of hits to least.
Since August was the last time I posted anything about using iTouches in the classroom, I thought I might get back on track a bit with what brings many readers to my blog. I have been saving a few really fantastic sites to use in foreign language or ELL classes. Take a look.
The first app is The Talking Phrase Book. If you look at this application on the web, it will work, but it will not give you a link to any audio. If you look at it on your iTouch or iPhone, it will give you a link to play the audio once you select to convert the English to French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. Just watch this video tutorial to see how easy it is to use this convenient application.
Next take a look at Ask A Word. This is an all-in-one Spellcheck – Thesaurus – Dictionary – Encyclopedia, that is simple to use. It’s worth giving it a try.
You may also want to take a look at the Mobile Translator. This site allows you to take any Spanish word or phrase and translate it into one of ten languages including Korean, Russian and German.
Lastly, please visit Tech Dictionary. I got a real kick out of this site. I think it should be used as a resource at Cyber Safety workshops for parents. Not only can you look up any technology term (I tried CSS, shell and XML) but you can dive deep into their databases of IM-Chat abbreviations and Emoticon symbol combinations. This is the most extensive list I have come across in a long time.
Some of my favorites as seen below:
SFLA = Stupid Four Letter Acronym
( <> .. <> ) = Alienated
As usual, you can see the notes I put together for this post in a published Google Doc.
Today is day 1 of Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger challenge. I’ve decided that I will give it a go. According the comments left on his blog, there are over 60 other educational bloggers up to the challenge. I’ll post a link to the wiki (I believe there is going to be one with more information about who is involved) as soon as I find it. In the meantime, here’s what Steve wrote that convinced me to join in:
“I’ve sketched out 30 ideas for Being a Better Blogger. These are not tips like “Make it personal” or “Focus on quality”, these are ideas for doing things to improve your blog and address all the little details people generally forget about, ignore, or never knew to do in the first place. Every day I will post a new tip/challenge for you to try. Whether you’re a new blogger or tenured, I encourage you to join along with me and use the month of November to be a better blogger.” – Steve Dembo
I’m always looking to learn something new and if this can help make me a better blogger, publish some of the posts that I have had as drafts for longer than I’d like to admit, and make my blog more appealing to other educators, then these 30 ideas from Teach42 are going to be worth tracking.
Consider joining us if you’d like. Just make sure to tag all your posts 30D2BBB.