Friday, June 29, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Lazy Monday!
I stumbled upon an article in the New York times today about a student who was suspended for 10 days in 2002 when he held up a sign that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at and Olympic Torch event. Over the past 5 years his teenage angst has sparked great debate in schools and ultimately in the Supreme Court about the freedom of speech.

Regardless of the details of the particular case (the student happened to not even be on school property) it begins the conversation about the rights our students have when they come into our classroom and how far we have to go to censor them. I think a lot of us, especially in the secondary realm, want to use blogs and all of us want to post our student's work online. But, how far do we have to go to make sure that what is attached to the district's site is appropriate and who ultimately decides.

Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., said, "the First Amendment does not require schools to tolerate at school events student expression that contributes to those dangers." So, the student is in some waypromoting something seen to be dangerous then its unacceptable . Justice Thomas, who did not sign the Chief Justice's opinion, argued that "it cannot seriously be suggested that the First Amendment ‘freedom of speech’ encompasses a student’s right to speak in public schools."

As we move into a place that allows our students to produce thought for a world-wide audience, I think its important to reflect on the opinions brought forth in this case. This is an old battle that may find a new proving ground if we do not at least begin to ponder about our own place and stance on the issue.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

TIE Film Festival Session (June 22, 2007)

On Friday we had about 14 participants attend the session titled "District-wide Film Festival". We introduced Adams 14 and the vision for film making in our district. We have a vision of students and teachers working together to produce quality films to be shared with the world. Here are the slides that introduce Adams 14, spell out our vision, and discuss lessons learned. During the session we also asked the participants to produce a short Public Service Announcement about Why Teachers and Administrators should attend TIE. We pre-shot the footage and gave them 45 minutes to storyboard and edit a 30-60 second PSA (not a lot of time). We had three groups complete their projects. Two of the videos are shown below (we had technical difficulties with one of the videos).

Why do you think teachers and administrators should attend TIE (Technology in Education Conference)? Why does technology in the classroom matter?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Film Festival Presentation Part II (TIE Colorado June 22, 2007)

During the presentation at TIE today we will ask the partiipants to storyboard and create a 30-60 second PSA. We pre-shot footage and created project files in Microsoft Movie Maker. In addition, we created our own 60 second PSA from the footage we captured. John and I planned together, but John edited the final product. We loaded the final product to (see below).

Film Festival Presentation (TIE Colorado June 22, 2007)

These are the slides from the presentation that John, Dave, and I are giving on Friday June 22, 2007 at Technology in Education (TIE) Colorado (the embed feature of did not seem to work for this presentation). The presentation also includes a 10 minute documentary about the Film Festival and student videos. During the presentation attendees will have an opportunity create their own Public Service Announcement on Why Teachers and Administrators Should Attend TIE.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Film Fests and Online Video

In Will Richardson's TIE session entitled Podcast, Vodcast, Screencast Nation we learned about using tons of FREE web resources for creating and sharing content on the web. For those of us who are involved with digital video production in the classroom, check out some stellar examples of student filmmaking at the ICAN film fest in San Fernando, California. The group writes on its site, "Digital storytelling is our way of promoting the arts, celebrating our culture, and improving our communications with you: the world." That's what all this is about - empowering our students to be contributors to the global community.

One great tool is the YouTube Remixer, which allows a YouTube user to edit and add titles and effects to his/her YouTube films. Very cool, very fun, and very practical. The editing is all done online without the need for any fancy video editing software, and the final version of the video can then be uploaded directly in YouTube.

Here's another fun, free, and extremely useful tool: Windows Media Encoder. Use this to convert any A/V input for your computer to a windows media file, or simply use it to create screencasts. The screencast will prove to be a very powerful tool in your classroom. Use it to deliver instructions or to provide interactive feedback to students on their work. Watch my example of how I use IE7 daily at work.

To learn more about the many tools available out there, check out Will Richardson's Wiki.

Wireless World - It's Where We're Headed

The Global Learners project discusses many ideas for changing the world in which we live. Naturally, our discussions center mostly around classroom techniques for delivering 21st Century skills through the use of integrated technology.
As PIO for Adams 14, one of my job responsibilities is to track trends in education news in local and national media. Today, while surfing through the various online news feeds I receive (view my shared page here), I came across a story on NPR about wireless electricity research at MIT. Apparently, scientists at MIT have successfully transmitted electricity with no wires. This is an enormous development. Think of the implications not only for the classroom but for the entire world. Electric cars and mobile devices that charge while in use without wires - HOLY COW!
I'm ready and excited for the future that awaits my children and all the children that pass through our schools. Get ready everyone, it's already here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

RSS Tricks and Tips

Real Simple Syndication (RSS) is a method for organizing content on the Internet so the content comes to you rather than you looking for content. I have been using RSS to track the blogs I read for two years. Today in Will Richardson's (photo credit) session I learned new ways to use RSS that are useful and relevant to teachers and students. Here are the three coolest things I learned:
(1) News searching. Go to Google News and perform a search. For example, "educational technology". This search covers 4,500 (mostly) newspapers. Once the search is completed on the left-side of the page you will see RSS. Click the RSS hyper-text and you will get the feed. Add the feed to your reader. Now any time a new article is published on educational technology in one of the 4,500 newspapers you will be notified in your reader (Google Reader or Bloglines). In addition, using the advanced search feature in Google News you can restrict by publication.
(2) YouTube RSS: If you want to subscribe to Youtube videos by tag (or keyword) you can do this through your reader. Here is how you do it: first, copy this feed: feed:// into a web browser. Change "monkey" to the keyword you want to track videos on. For example, if you wanted to know if any new videos were posted on "Darfur" you could create a RSS feed for Youtube using this method and any new videos would post to your reader.
(3) Google Calendar: Several of the teachers in the Global Learners Project (Jeff Lewis, Kelly Schwichtenberg, and Emily Taylor) were smitten with Google Calendar and have decided that their school will use it next year for IB Units and as a school calendar at Alsup Elementary School. Under "Manage Calendars" click the calendar that you want an RSS feed for. At the bottom of the page is a button that says "XML". Click that button to reveal a web address that is a RSS feed. Copy that feed to your Reader. Be sure to make your calendar "public" in order to use this RSS feature. Parents could subscribe to the school's calendar and know when it was updated with new events. How cool would that be?

IT's Elementary! Integrating Technology in the Primary Grades

Dateline: TIE 2007 - Copper Mountain, CO

Boni Hamiltion, author and assistant director of technology integration in the Littleton Public schools gave a compelling 3 hour presentation on integrating technology and the 9 Marzano strategies in the primary grades classrooms. You can read an excerpt from her book online. On her wiki you will find some great ideas and online resources. Will you accept the challenge to try some of these with your elementary classes?

MIT Open Courseware

This morning Will Richardson introduced the crowd at TIE Colorado to MIT Open Courseware. This is a site at MIT that posts the content, including audio and video of courses. All these courses can be taken for free online. This is a really neat site that opens doors for all of us.

Are there any Global Learners that would be willing to post their course guides, video and audio from their classroom?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Using a Smartboard for Group Filmmaking

This is cross-posted at
I have found that using a Smartboard is a wonderful way to teach elementary aged students digital story telling. I've been working with students in Kindergarten through sixth grade, teaching them how to take digital photos and tell a story using them. We are using Photo Story 3 for Windows, a software program that allows you to make films with digital photos. Using the Smartboard, all students are allowed to be an integral part of the process. They can see and learn how to use the features of the program while participating in making a group film. I see using the Smartboard is a way for my students to interact more while they are learning something new. Keeping them actively engaged helps them enjoy the learning process and stay focused on what they are learning. Have you tried using a Smartboard to engage your students? How have you used it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You Tube Sends Messages

Take a look at this video. It was sent to me as a forward (which usually end with me). However, this one was intriguing, given our new Global Learners community! The video was created by a 15-year-old girl name Lizzie Palmer. She is currently a high school sophomore and plans to join the US army when she graduates. Lizzie makes these videos as a way to honor our soldiers. What a powerful tool Lizzie has access to! Check out her video called Remember Me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wikis in My Classroom

I got a chance to use wikis last year with my algebra 2 class, with the help of Dave Tarwater. The first day setting up student accounts with the students was probably the most difficult. A few students were able to run through the process very quickly; however, I needed to run around the cramped lab and help each individual student. As a little background I had asked the week prior if each student had an email account and if they didn't to see me and I'd help get them one (unfortunately 5 had accounts set up years ago that they didn't use or remember the passwords to). It was a good learning experience, and great for differentiation. The advanced students could help others and also work on their home wiki page or request membership to my private wiki (so outside people can't respond or change pages). The next time the students were asked to edit a page I created that had several problems on it. However, I ran into trouble. As pairs of students clicked the edit page and then save, the changes instantly appeared then disappeared as the next group saved and changed the page. Each group had tried to edit the original page and add their one answer to the page, but each subsequent save cleared the previous groups response. Having to think on my toes, I had each group put their problem and answer in the discussion page. I hope this gave you a little insight into my experience with wikis. The kids kept asking to use wikis through the year, and I had a couple more assignments but if you watch the video, wiki is more about collaborative work over time rather than my original idea of here's a problem, edit the page with your solution. However, Joe Miller has a great way for students to expand their vocabulary using wikis. Check out the work done on the word Irony.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Webpage Construction

I love these trainings. My favorite so far has been the Contribute training. Making my webpage has been the coolest thing I've learned in a long time. I think I might be addicted. I can't wait to start adding student work. My hope is that parents will take full advantage and use the website to keep updated and stay involved. I've been sharing my progress with my coworkers, and I already have people asking me to help them start their own webpage!

3 Lessons, 3 Results

I know it has been several days since school ended, but I wanted to relate the results of three technology-oriented lessons I taught during the last three days of school. To a degree they illustrate the great benefits and unexpected pitfalls of the pioneering lessons we are trying. I did sort of tack these lessons on, but I really wanted to put some of what we are learning into practice. So, starting with the most successful first...
The last lesson I did with my students was a year-end final quiz using the Clickers student-response system. Everything about this activity, well, clicked. I finally figured out how to configure my laptop so it worked with the projector, and the 20 questions were clearly displayed. The students worked in groups of three, sharing a remote, so that they could discuss and cooperate on answers. They were engaged, everything worked, and my final day with this fifth grade class was mighty fine.
The next-to-last lesson involved the hidden text feature we Global Learners discovered was part of Microsoft Word. I distributed laptops to each student and they were able to log on to the internet, where I had planned on showing them how to download the document from the Global Learners Enhancing Education Through Technology website. However, for some inexplicable reason, the students working on wireless laptops could not load the page. We tried typing in the exact address, but a blank screen persisted. Other websites worked just fine. Then I tried typing in the address of the page with the document on it, and that would load, so we were able to download the document. Yet the hiccups were not finished. I did demonstrate how to use and write with the hidden text, but my students had a lot of formatting issues. They spent more time trying to get their text correctly set then they did thinking about the content of the assignment. For example, when a student would backspace to fix a mistake, Word would automatically convert the font into hidden text, hiding their work. Bit of a headache, but everyone managed to finish.
Which brings me to the first lesson I tried, which was a mild disaster. I intended for my students to use an activBook lesson that taught them how to use Excel to calculate Chicken McNugget prices. Perhaps I should have paid more attention in my class, but I could not figure out how to help the students log into the activBook site to view the lesson. Instead, I had to show it on the projector, but it did not hold their attention (it their defense, it was a Friday afternoon, with two days of school left). All the students got from the lesson was some exposure to Excel, which I am now sure they are dying to use again.
All in all, I was glad I did the lessons, and I learned the importance of making sure the technology would work before I had the students sitting with their laptops before them. I can't wait to implement some more lessons in the fall. Right on.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Multimedia Project Ideas

First, check out the latest edition of THE Journal, with the article entitled Podcasts: Where's the Learning?

The following ideas for multimedia projects were submitted by Chilton Foley-Reynolds, co-teacher for the June 11/12 workshops on podcasting and filmmaking.

1. Create multi-media project to introduce teacher or new subject

2. Record a multi-media project to tell the steps in a multi-step project. Then students can access the instructions when ever they need them.

3. Use multi-media projects as a way to listen to students’ reading patterns. They have to record themselves reading and listen back to it. They can then evaluate their reading performance and try to improve in the next recording.

4. Use multi-media projects as a final project. The students have to create a multi-media project using the information they learned during a unit of instruction.

5. Use multi-media projects to introduce the concept of an audience. They would have to adapt their podcasts to different audiences: children, students, adults . . .

6. Use multi-media projects as an option for assessments. Instead of writing a paper, they could create a multi-media project to summarize their learnings.

INTERACTIVE - Participator
7. Use multi-media projects as an evaluation tool. The students have to create a multi-media project about a certain subject. Then all of the podcasts are listened to during class and evaluated according to the matrix set up. Then students would have a chance to go back an edit their presentations.

8. Create a weekly multi-media project, produced by the students, that explains concepts taught that week.

Expanding Boundaries

We have talked in depth about how technology can get kids excited about coming into the classroom. This is clearly true. The power of computer technology can spark student imagination and ultimately move them toward greater learning.

Using technology can also be a huge motivator for teachers. Not only do new methods of teaching provide a welcome change in the classroom, but students become much more engaged in the material. Teachers can constantly change and update their lessons, and look forward to each school day with renewed enthusiasm. With teachers providing such a positive atmosphere, students are encouraged to learn and grow as individuals. Technology expands the boundaries of our creativity and the imaginations of our students beyond the walls of the classroom.

Education is the only sure avenue of opportunity for disadvantaged children and is the only way to improve their social and economic condition. By adding technology to the classroom, students are not only excited about learning, but also gain vital computer and technological skills necessary for success in this world. We can expand the possibilities of learning, and thus the possibilities for students’ success, by using technology in new and imaginative ways.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

podcasting and filmmaking in the classroom

On Monday and Tuesday of next week, I will offer classes at the Global Learners PD on podcasting and filmmaking. We will use two free software products in the class: Audacity and Windows Movie Maker.
Should anyone have the inclination to get a bit ahead over the weekend, download Audacity (your computer should come complete with Windows Movie Maker) and the accompanying Lame dll for mp3 exporting. Install these and have some good fun editing audio.
In next week's sessions, I will guide you through both products, but here are some great tutorial sites for your use.
In addition, there's a good one that's all streaming video instruction:
Movie Maker:
In keeping with the 21st Century focus, two of the tutorial sites are predominantly streaming video libraries. These should prove helpful in your quest to help your students become content producers for the modern world.
Enjoy - see you Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Using Technology to Engage and Motivate

I'm in a unique situation with the Global Learner program in that I've been an elementary technology teacher for the last 3 years here in the district. I've had the opportunity to use many of the new technologies introduced recently and seen how they impact learning. The greatest benefit to using technology in the classroom is the way our kids react to it. Their eyes are locked onto any type of screen and they drink in the content. I've seen the excitement they show in anticipation of getting their hands on technology and how they become engrossed in learning. Kids raised in this media rich culture are engaged and motivated to learn by - you guessed it - media rich lessons. Our jobs are to connect the technology and media into quality lessons our kids can really buy in to and get excited about while reaching educational goals. I can't wait to hear all of your stories of how your students' eyes light up when you introduce these media-rich, engaging lessons.

Student Filmmaking

Thoughts from Student Filmmakers…
"Filmmaking has helped me understand what art is. I know how to make films and storyboards. My friends and I have made a film about cooking. Three of them didn't know how to cook or film, but by the time we practiced they knew two more things about art. I love film-making. “-Shania, 4th grader

"I love filmmaking because it helps me learn about technology. I recommend people to join up to make films."-Arianna, 4th grader

"I think it sort of changed my life because when I get older I already am going to have a history with films as I become a game designer; filmmaking ROCKS!"-Larry, 4th grader

"I really like filmmaking because I want to make movies in the future, but before I got in film-making I didn't know how to make films, but now I'm a film expert."-Sean, 4th grader

"I like filmmaking. It's cool. I think that I might make films every year (if they have it)."-Jayson, 4th grader

Why make films with students?
There are many reasons why filmmaking is a positive and engaging experience for students. I have facilitated after school filmmaking workshops with my third and fourth grade students for the past two years. All students I have made films with are committed, captivated and absorbed throughout the process. Every day of filmmaking they are excited for our sessions to begin. They don't want to leave when it is time to go, they want to work on their films as much as possible, they want to show people what they are creating, and they will come to school on filmmaking days so they won't miss filmmaking!

My students have embraced filmmaking! They are not only learning how to use technology, but they are using it to tell their stories, and share their perspective with others. Through animation and digital film they are being creative, working collaboratively, becoming stronger writers, and building self-confidence. For some students it is keeping them motivated and focused more in school. They are engaged and actively pursuing learning as they create their own films. As I've worked with students I have seen them become independent in using the digital video camera, tripod, and film-editing software.

How to get started…
Making films with your students requires only a few resources and a little time to familiarize yourself with film-editing software. My favorites (and the ones I know about…) are Windows Movie Maker and Photo Story 3 for Windows. Both are free from Microsoft and can be downloaded from their website. Your computer needs to have Windows Media Player installed for the programs to work! Photo Story 3 allows students to import digital photographs into the program and add movement, words and audio to create a film. It is very easy for students to use, and they love adding their voice and music to their pictures. I also recommend using larger picture files, so that your final film project will look sharp when you watch it on a larger screen. Windows Movie Maker is a program that allows you to create digital films. After capturing film on a digital video camera, and transferring it to Movie Maker the clips can be edited and placed on a storyboard to create the film. Working on the storyboard special effects, transitions and music can be added. Students can also import images (like drawings done with Microsoft Paint) to create animated films.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

June 12 PD "clickers"

Steve Huff, Ph.D and educational consultant will join us this June 12. Steve will be offering up to 3 levels of presentations for beginning clicker users, intermediate users, and advanced users. Please be thinking about which level you find yourself at. Have any of you Global Learners used ExamView in your classes? CPS-einstruction (the clicker company) purchased ExamView and offer some clever ways of combining the ExamView item banks and the clickers.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Live and in Person

Tonia Johnson has released her website "live". You can take a look here.

Tonia has some great ideas going and I'll just bet there will be more to come this summer. Be sure to look at some of the Blog comments her students have made. I'm sure Tonia will be glad to have you visit her site. What are you other Global Learners planning for your Web 1.0 presence?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Pay Back is Sweet

I gotta share this. I know it's probably a little cruel, but to get back to my students for a year's worth of headaches I gave them the following challenge.

Anyone who can find me the formula for an Isosceles Left Triangle will get an A for the Final.

God I wish I had them on computers to see how long it will take b4 they figure it out. so far it's been 30 mins and they are getting frustrated. Ahhhh the little things make my day!