Monday, May 25, 2009

January Reflection 2009

E2T2 notes re monthly meetings/classes.
5. January 24 2009.

This will be brief because most of the day was getting organized for our conferencing re presentations & it had to be arranged via a tutor & 'Elluminate' application.

The morning included a good discussion about "access" to sites & sources through the Internet. Again, not only a reminder about keeping our students informed & forearmed but remember as the educators we are responsible & accountable.
Another part of the morning was a good reminder from Chris about a major theme of our course - the aim of being technology leaders. How do we connect with our peers effectively?

Some more questions & understanding re summer session June & who is involved/invited.

Most of the afternoon was then exploring what can be expected with our projects, the means for preparing with consulting Nancy Goldberg.
And then some practical walkthroughs & reflection exercises for our ways of constructing our public presentations.

Monday, January 19, 2009

November meeting reflection.

E2T2 notes re monthly meetings/classes.
3. November 21 & 22 2008.
Again we opened with various discussions & reflections, with an emphasis on ‘understanding digital children’.
Ryan did a demonstration of podcasts & blog links plus tools for communicating with parents & students. It also included how students can ‘publish’ presentations & be reviewed at home by the family.
There followed a useful discussion regarding many technical & proprietary issues. A reminder to teachers & Districts to be vigilant about what they use & how.
Mike (presenter) then introduced Digital Storytelling. We broke into groups to see what is possible. One ‘housekeeping’ hint is to see that your District has a folder on the school server where students can share files.
Mike’s presentation had some detailed leads to explore possibilities particularly with layouts of how others had constructed their presentations. The whole point being there is a big number of vehicles to create & present digital stories using a variety of formats.
A number of sites on Mike’s page lead to many learning opportunities for teachers (& so students).
Checkout to pull sites together (also ‘igoogle?).
In the afternoon Molly demonstrated the many avenues Google has set up (& is adding to) of tools for educators to make the most of technological innovation (such as their suite of programs).
The links are numerous & even YouTube has useful tutorials to guide us through them. The Google enterprise has a few programs offered to educators to initiate them into the possibilities their tools offer.
Molly finished with showing a list of sites she will keep updating for our use & benefit.
The next day we started with a video outlining possibilities for introducing innovation to education. The theme was ‘disruptive change’. Can they be anticipated? The need to do so because current methods will not cope.
The examples were mainly about how successful companies can be ‘blindsided’ by innovations that do not seem to relate to their expertise & successes. Maybe the answer is to have a body within an organization that has the facilities to explore untraditional or radical possibilities. The possibility being to foster different perspectives.
One application for public schools can be on-line learning. This is already being used by a variety of educational institutions some of which can be seen to be in competition with public schools. Whether they are AP classes or catering to more unconventional students.
There followed discussion regarding homeschooling, access to technology, ‘best practice’ where ever it occurred & innovative grants being provided by a mix of major private institutions.
For all concerned technological change is overwhelming in its many facets & speed of change.
Look into MN Transitional Charter School. Rachel Thompson presented Connections Academy (originally from Baltimore). While a private business it does have to conform to State Standards. Those present asked a lot of constructive questions exploring the concept, execution & who was involved.
A topic change saw some discussion continue on the place of ‘social networking’. More & more of us were becoming aware of its nature & usefulness.
Our next sessions saw a number of participants demonstrate how they were implementing technology.
Matthew demonstrated his making use of vodcasting & its value for his students. Plus it caught parent interest.
Connie showed how there were tools to make the most of files over the web & how they can be ‘translated’ in different formats with tools from Adobe.
Gina showed how she made use of Animoto to stir the creativity & interest of her students to get more involved in their learning.
Some choice of workshops at the end of the day.
Some things picked up on the day –; Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (; & Google video 2015.

Reflection on our October meeting.

E2T2 notes re monthly meetings/classes.
2. October 24 & 25 2008.
Various reflections on progress with students & colleagues since we last met. Also, some sharing of things we had discovered while exploring technology for education.
I reported about my classes’ history with blogs & wikis & then how as students in groups they had used wikis as a collaborative tool to research provinces & territories of Canada. There is a report in detail on my blog site.
Much more discussion in groups about getting students motivated, organized & let them know what is available. We focused on students being in control & achieving something meaningful.
Ø Self-directed & motivated – they need to have a sense of it being their product.
Ø Their evaluating information – different types of sources
- different origins of sources
- how to evaluate sources
- get an idea of how search engines operate
Then the session moved to discussing a variety of technological tools such as Screencasting, Voicethread, Camstudio, Thread & Flowgram. We have been given, along the way, a variety of links on the E2T2 web site to find many different web tools for constructing products, allowing collaboration & rich mediums for doing presentations.
The afternoon was valuable for workshops to explore what is available, to see what they can produce & to be given time to explore.
The next session moved on to looking at various ways to construct student learning. A focus was understanding by design & “backward design”.
There was some exploration of ‘assessment’ being the primary role in learning. Also, the primacy of ‘essential questions’.
We need to understand
How do students demonstrate learning
What sort of evidence should be used to demonstrate that learning
Discussion moved to the place of clickers in the classroom. Such as assessment tools, monitoring student learning & their value for immediate feedback. – discussion about its usefulness with students & colleagues in a various ways. We were given time to explore the site & demonstrate a possible application.
Other items that cropped up were, del-icio-us (now delicious) & deego (?).
More workshops were offered such as Digitales & opportunities to explore SMART boards.
These sessions continue to be informative, flexible & facilitators/participants responsive.

Reflections on our September meeting.

E2T2 notes re monthly meetings/classes.
1. September 26 & 27 2008.
The early discussions were ‘getting to know’ & some general thoughts on the purposes of the program. This involved some shared discussions at our various tables.
The overall goal of becoming technology leaders was clarified while we began sharing quite a few professional experiences. Things like Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, Responsive Classroom & Total School were discussed. We began to do searches & sharing involving the web & useful sites (e.g. Minnesota Organization for Media –
The emphasis was on sharing technology at this meeting & with our colleagues/students back at our Districts. It was valuable that we came from such a mix of Districts & had a variety of roles in those Districts. How were we to be the best facilitators possible by the end of this program?
Our group started to narrow down its interests. Primarily, how to guide our students into becoming effective users of web technology?
· Search skills
· Research skills
· Information/technology literacy
Ø Start with teachers
Ø Start with types of browsers
Ø Start with specific sites
It was very helpful to have Media Specialists as part of our group.
The afternoon session was given over to discussing various topics related to ‘WEB 2.0’.
It is obvious that a) technology is incredibly varied & rich; b) it increasingly focuses on being connected & sharing information; c) younger people in particular are comfortable with the immediacy & personal nature of the web; d) that the business world is relying on modern technological tools; & e) schools must make greater efforts to meet the expectations of students & employers for the (21st work environment.
Podcasts, blogs, aggregators such as RSS & wikis were just some of the innovations & tools discussed. Increasingly the physical location of a person was irrelevant to their ability to use technological tools & be in contact with others. As a result ‘collaboration’ should be the driving force for learning strategies.
Caveat – access to technology for student, family, community & District.
Some time was allowed for individuals to explore & share how they could implement things we had discussed &/or shared. For me it was to integrate technology into year 9 geography. This was already being done for research but what might be possible to explore collaboration?
RADCAB was a tool to introduce how to use the web. Contacts I already had with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation could be explored more for my students making contact via web with Native American communities.
Ø Look at how to frame any exercises so they will be useful for other departments & cross-department purposes.
There was a lot more sharing of useful sites & strategies in general discussion.
Finally, time was given to exploring & setting up blogs.
My comment to conclude was that I found email & professional web sites more practical than establishing & maintaining my own blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Students reviews of wikis for group activity & presentations.

Responses from groups re wiki as a group exercise. Nth Amn Geog 1st qtr 08-09.

Nothing will replace a group of students being educated in group strategies, group responsibilities & knowing how to demonstrate their learning. Whether they are working with a rock & chisel or the latest network of super cool laptops, the tools do neither the learning nor the teaching. Conduit yes…transfer skills yes…pedagogue no.

Ø All the basic ground work still has to be done as for any other student group activity.

Blocks 1 & 3.

Most negatives that came from students related to the usual practicalities of group work (e.g. who did the most; such & such will not cooperate).

'Bold' comments are the students’ emphasis.

  • The wiki exercise is a focus on collaborative working. What do they now think of the idea of collaborative learning using the Internet?

  • What were the good things about such a tool (the wiki)? In what ways was it useful?

  • How was it a good way to work with team members?

  • What were the problems with the wiki & the Internet?

  • What were the problems with doing this exercise in the team set-up?

  • In what ways might they use such a tool in the future?

  • How do they think such a tool could be made better?

  1. Very good for motivating the group while allowing for individual activity.
    Limited appeal for casual use.
    Promotes group cooperation & sharing.
    But there are differences in computer skills.
    Potential for groups working together despite physical distances.

  2. Takes good advantage of accessibility to technology when available.
    Increases understanding of remote work stations.
    Ease of adding & editing information.
    The project can proceed with agreement even if not having met physically.
    Usefulness of the wiki’s mechanics to utilize a variety of web resources.
    A good presentation tool.
    Caters to different group members’ timetables outside of school.
    A good organization tool.

  3. Work can be done outside school without having to meet physically.
    Work at own pace.
    Members are kept accountable.
    Each group member has a sense of freedom to work with this tool.
    Can check in on each others’ changes & suggestions.

  4. Any tech glitches will disrupt work.
    Different levels of being responsible for one’s work.
    Accessibility is not equal for everyone.
    Audio-visual tools are clumsy to set up.
    Access at school to web sites is limited.
    Learning curve for the audio-visuals.

  5. Allocation of tasks can be unbalanced as in what has to be done by each member.
    Problem of settling agreements if not meeting face-to-face.
    You have to rely on individuals doing the homework they agreed on.
    Class time & resources at school to get organized.
    Excuses made using tech problems or access to technology.

  6. Very promising for future presentations at school.
    Effective form of communication.
    Very good for organization.
    Little appeal for making a web page.
    Interaction with group members is rewarding.
    A good way to share findings & reports.

  7. Some concern about the instructions.
    Clearer directions needed.
    Format is limited for what the group can do with it.
    More options needed for manipulating the site for creativity.

    The students have been spoilt a bit by the ‘bells & whistles’ that they enjoy with other sites they can personalize & interact with.

    Group exercise creating wiki site for Nth Amn Geog 1st qtr 08-09 – student products (I was not present to supervise concluding steps or for tying up loose ends). Still works in progress?

Block 1. permission to log in requests permission to log in – there has to be one group in every class!

Block 3. - we need a suspicious group. –does this say something about this class? - need for censorship

Sunday, October 5, 2008

response re blogs & wikis

The following is what I have learnt & done with my students.

Mahtomedi High School is predominantly affluent, overwhelmingly caucasian & benefits greatly from technology.

I have discovered the following so far (Sunday Oct 5th).

3 out of 4 of my classes questioned so far:

  • 71 of 82 have an idea what a blog is;

  • 5 of 82 have set up their own blog;

  • 3 of 82 still make use of their blog.

In class last week 2 of my classes were led by me to explore blogs & set up their own. Their blog must still exist & operate in 4-5 weeks.

  • 70 of 82 had an idea about wikis;

  • 1 made use of a wiki.

Those same 2 classes have now investigated wikis & have been divided into groups to operate their group's wiki.

They will be using them to create a product that explains a province/territory in Canada (it is a geography class).

Nearly all students are familiar with & have used MySpace & Facebook.

All the best,


Update: each of my student groups has now presented their 'blog product' to the class.

Each group now has to do an evaluation of the exercise.

October 14th 2008.