I Hope It’s Not My Last Chance

Tomorrow I will be speaking for the third and final time at the NJEA Technology Institutes at Stockton College. I’ve really enjoyed talking with New Jersey educators there. The feedback so far has been positive and the teachers seemed to have been enjoying their time in the digital storytelling, podcasting, Web 2.0 and SmartBoard sessions after each of the Keynotes I’ve been giving.

In a way, I kind of feel like this is my last chance. For what, I’m not really sure. Some of the teachers registered for all three of the July Institutes, some only one. Some that attended the two-hour hands-on sessions, didn’t attend the Keynotes. But I took my role as the Keynoter very seriously and put a lot of time and effort into the message I attempted to relay.

My first talk was on July 7 and was centered around the concept of developing a professional learning network. I set up a Twitter hashtag for the Institutes and with the help of my friend and colleague, Kevin Jarrett, have been able to UStream and archive each of the Keynotes. I was shocked and humbled when there were more educators in the UStream the first day than in the physical room.

During the second talk, I focused on what we could do to utilize all the portable equipment our students have access to. Of course many of our schools have some of these “boxes” on premises, but the focus of our time together was how to use what the students already had.

I’ve collected all of my resources on my wiki at http://sites.google.com/site/thumannresources/njea. I’ve embedded the Slideshares there. I’ve put links to all the videos I’ve used and the articles I’ve referred to. I’ve Tweeted as I usually do, yet occasionally the past few weeks, I’ve used the #NJEA hashtag where appropriate.

So, tomorrow, I feel like it’s my last chance to be a change agent for some of these teachers who I may not see again. They may not use some of the tools and techniques I referred to. They may, quite frankly, not be interested. But I’d like to think that many of them are.

Tomorrow’s presentation is about the 21st Century Classroom and the The Networked Student.  I am very fortunate to have such great resources to pull from. I’ll be sharing with these hundred educators Peggy Sheehy and Marianne Malstrom‘s No Future Left Behind video. I’ll also be showing some footage of some interviews that I’ve had with some students over the last couple of weeks. One other video I will sharing with be Wendy Drexler’s The Networked Student.

So, if you’re having your coffee tomorrow morning and can spare some time, please join us. We begin between 9 and 9:15 AM EST. I’ll Tweet out the link to the UStream. I am @lthumann on Twitter. Thanks again for your support.

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The Networked Student

Edubloggercon yesterday was amazing, to say the least. Reconnecting with folks I hadn’t seen face-to-face in almost a year was wonderful and making first-time connections was priceless as well. You can see everything from the day including pictures, the Twitter feed and blog posts about the event by visiting the official Edubloggercon wiki.

If you haven’t seen the video that Wendy Drexler published about the Networked Student, please view it now. It’s excellent and was the catalyst for her session yesterday at Edubloggercon.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this concept of the Networked Student. It’s crystal clear in my head. But as I prepare for my presentations for NJEA this July, I’d like to be sure that I can express what is seems clear to me in a way that will make sense to classroom teachers. I’ll be talking with educators about shaping their classrooms and working with their students in our changing educational environment. We’ll be talking about 21st classrooms and what they look like. Perhaps we should begin with what a 21st century student looks like.

According to the video, the networked (or 21st Century student) should…

  • build their knowledge base
  • continually reflect
  • be portable
  • have access
  • share out

Keep in mind, if at this point you still have not watched the video, that it’s five minutes long and I just summarized it in five bullet points. So we could spend an hour talking about each of the points in the list. One of the points that we spent time discussing in the session yesterday was the fourth – having access. Is this wireless? Is this bandwidth? Is this two computers in the classroom versus a laptop cart on each floor in the building versus a 1:1 initiative? Don’t even get me started on the 1:1 initiatives (tablets versus netbooks versus Macs versus PCs).

So here are my take-aways  from the session:

  • students must have access in order for this to work
  • teachers must allow for self-directed learning. This is their learning environment – not ours.
  • students must be able to have some amount of power as this is NOT a passive learning environment – they must take ownership for their learning
  • it’s going to be messy – tough to organize – especially the first time

I think that we all know that change is hard. We also know that unless we commit to making change, it won’t happen. The fact is that there is uncertainty as to what jobs are coming down the pike. We don’t know what we are preparing our students for. So we need to create a model that they can carry into their adult lives.
I’m working on putting together some short video clips on what educators are doing in their 21st Century Learning classrooms. I talked with a college student, April, yesterday about how she felt that her high school, which she classified as a 21st Century Learning school, helped better prepare her for college. I almost jumped out of my chair in excitement when she explained to me how. If you want to know how, then — Please DM me on Twitter or find me at NECC and allow me to ask you a few questions about your classroom to share with educators in NJ. I’ll have my Digital Flip camera with me. Thanks in advance.

Pick one new skill and give it a try

images.inmagine.com/img/image100/10086/10086059.jpg
Source:images.inmagine.com/img/image100/10086/10086059.jpg

Late this past Tuesday I was asked if I would put together a presentation for a group of high school teachers. The high school administration is working on making better use of the hardware and infrastructure already set in the building and they have set up a professional day with some 90 minute workshops on how to integrate web resources into the content areas as a way of renewing the buildings interest in matching the students needs. To kick off the day, the technology coordinator asked me to make a presentation to the 150 or so high school teachers that would “get them excited” about using technology.

If you’ve met me, follow me on Twitter or read my blog, you know it doesn’t take much to excite me about technology. This stuff is my passion. So I immediately recognized that what might be really engaging for me as a member of this audience on a Friday morning at 8am, might bore the heck out of a high school biology teacher who has no interest in technology whatsoever. Thanks invance for your continued support and assistance.

This I found a bit unnerving.

The other issue I was having was that I found out about this presentation Tuesday afternoon and was due in another district on both Wednesday and Thursday. So there wasn’t much time to prep anything. I mostly planned my slide show in my head and wrote notes at red lights while driving. And then finally, Thursday evening, was able to put my presentation together.

I’d like to share it with you. I wish it were later in the day so that I would be able to invite my PLN to join a backchannel and present with me, but I realize that 8am is very early. I may try to set something up on UStream if I get the chance once I am there. I will definitely be on Twitter, looking for moral support as I have to say that this is the largest group I have presented to.

Did I mention that this is the first district I ever taught in?? No, I guess I didn’t happen to mention that.

As Liz Davis I had great fun asking session attendees to dance with us at Educon2.1, I decided to play some music while everyone is settling down. I don’t quite have the nerve to ask 150 people to get up and dance.

I will introduce the video Pay Attention and then use this slide show to lead my discussion. If I’m not able to record it using UStream, I’ll have my iPod Classic with me so that I can record it that way as I’d like to go back and hear it myself. I’m very curious to see what improvements I can make on this particular presentation having had so little time to prepare.

Be Teachable

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Written on one of the tables at http://educon21.wikispaces.com/Conversations#e313-4

Many bloggers have been posting their take-aways from Educon2.1. I have to admit that though I was sad to leave SLA and my PLN on Sunday afternoon and even sadder to say goodbye to Liz Davis as I left her at the Philadelphia Airport an hour later, my brain was fried. I wasn’t ready to think about next year or reflect on this year’s conference.

Let’s be honest. I wasn’t ready to drive home as I hadn’t had enough sleep. I wasn’t ready to tackle all the laundry that was waiting for me or to have to go grocery shopping to make sure that we had supplies for the girls’ lunches on Monday. Oh, and I wasn’t ready for my workshop on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. I was shot.

What are ya gonna do? Get ready!!

The next day I drove back towards Philly to work with a group of teachers on UDL. It was our third of 5 sessions together, so these were teachers that I had already built a rapport with. We talked openly about good teaching and what was working in their classrooms and then I asked them to take my presentation for the day and redo it so that it was more accessible to them.  We worked on the concepts behind multiple methods of presentation and worked on which tools would help them meet the objectives of the UDL framework. At first they were uncomfortable with editing my presentation. I explained that I had designed it that way to make a point and to teach me a more appropriate way to present these same ideas. I was hoping that they had really looked at the YouTube videos and wikis I had shared with them about PowerPoint reform.

On the drive home I spoke with a tech coordinator from a high school in North Jersey. We had been trying to connect with each other for a couple of weeks, so using the hands-free device in the car, I listened to him talk to me about how great the school’s infrastructure was, how they had at least four computers in each classroom, plus a couple of COWs. What he needed from me was to come in and get the teachers excited about using technology and to give them the tools, skills and confidence to bring their school into the 21st Century. I found myself thinking that I’d be happy to help him as log as his staff was teachable.

0128091The next day I drove to North Jersey to finish some SMARTBoard mentoring I mentioned in a previous post. I had 5 sessions mapped out for the morning ranging from a group of pre-k teachers with no IWB experience to a 5th grade teacher with over a year’s experience who was thirsty to learn the more advanced features of the technology.  What I didn’t expect was the middle school language arts teacher who walked in the room who had just started working at the school the prior week. She immediately asked me how this technology would help her get her students to be better writers. I asked her how she teaches them to write. We only had 25 minutes together, so you can understand that I needed to make some pretty quick decisions. She was very much against using any technology in the classroom because (…and you’ve heard this one before…) when she was a student, she learned to write just fine without a computer.

I sat and calmly talked with her about how not every piece of technology meets every need. That she might consider using collaborative documents with her students. I asked her if she wanted to make sure that her students were ready for high school, college and the work force in addition to being good writers. She said she was interested in learning how she could integrate technology and still teach the pedagogy behind good writing. She was open to ideas. She was teachable. I invited her to the upcoming Google Learning Institute at Rutgers University.

I was scheduled to drive back towards Philly today to work in one of the middle schools in Camden City School District. I work with a team of stellar teachers there in my 21st Century Learning Initiative. Though I’m disappointed it was canceled due to the snow (the district closed the schools), it gave me a chance to go through my inbox, my notes from Educon2.1 and look back at the week and what’s still to come.

What have I learned?

I tell people I try to learn something each day. I’m pretty sure that on the days I’m out in the field working with teachers I learn way more than one thing. I know I learn more than one thing a day when I attend a professional development event, be it in person or virtually.

I try to be teachable. Whether you are a noobie or a seasoned educator or somewhere in between – be teachable.

SAT Video Contest – It’s Not Too Late to Submit

brainyflixlogoIt’s not too late to urge your students to submit their videos to the nationwide contest that the MIT Alumni Association is sponsoring.  Students compete to produce fun, creative videos teaching SAT vocabulary.  They’re looking for short videos no longer than 2 min.
Once the videos have been submitted, they’ll allow viewers to vote on the videos, and they’ll award $600 in prize money to the video that receives the most number of votes.  $200 of the prize will go directly to the winner(s) and $400 to the class or school club chosen by that person(s).  To further encourage participation, they’ll give away 1 free iTunes song for every 5 videos a contestant submits or refers (up to the first 1,000 video submissions).

MIT began accepting video submissions January 1, but there is still plenty of time to submit your video(s)

You can sign up to receive an email reminder at http://www.BrainyFlix.com.

Other important dates are shown below:

– Video submission opens: 1/1/2009
– Video submission ends: 2/23/2009
– Voting opens: 3/1/2009
– Voting ends: 3/14/2009
– Winners announced: 3/20/2009
For more information, please visit http://www.BrainyFlix.com/main/contest_rules.
For any inquiries that aren’t answered there, contact Jack Yu at admin@brainyflix.com.
Good luck and feel free to leave a comment here with a link to your students’ video(s)!

The Six Degrees of GCTs

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.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Generator
6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon 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):

  1. They looked at 180 billion different pairs of users in the database
  2. They found that the average length to connect two users was 6.6 hops
  3. 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer

And then there’s the 6 Degrees of Wikipedia.

I choose to go from Google to Education and these were my results:

I would need only 2 clicks – – Google – – Ann Arbor, Michigan – – Education

6 Degrees of Wikipedia
6 Degrees of Wikipedia

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.

cert_teacher1

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.

Project 10 to the 100th

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/81035653@N00/2242177289

“New studies are reinforcing the simple wisdom that beyond a certain very basic level of material wealth, the only thing that increases individual happiness over time is helping other people.”

Project 10100

Project 10100 is a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. Google asks that if you have an idea that you believe would help somebody, to submit it to them. They are committing $10 million to fund up to five of the final ideas.

To submit your idea, complete this form and upload your 30 second video using YouTube or Google Video.

You can submit as many entries as you want.

Ideas must be submitted by individuals, not organizations.

Submit your idea focused on one of the following 8 categories (Pay attention to #8):

1. Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?

2. Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?

3. Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?

4. Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?

5. Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?

6. Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?

7. Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?

8. Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don’t fit into any category at all.

On January 27, 2009, the public (THAT’S YOU) will select twenty semi-finalists from 100 of the project submissions. An advisory board will then choose up to five final ideas for funding and implementation.

What will the Advisory Board look for in your idea?

Reach: How many people would this idea affect?
Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need?
Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two?
Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea?
Longevity: How long will the idea’s impact last?

What will your idea be? How can you use this with your students to make the connection between their lives and their community, their country, or even the planet?

There’s about 20 days left. Click here to read more about Project 10 to the 100th.