Thursday, November 29, 2007

Smart Notebook Update

The clever SmartBoard people from Canada have added a new feature for Smart Notebook, the Lesson Activity Toolkit It allows for teacher (and student) creation of lessons and activities in a really easy and straight forward manner. Who out there will give this a try?

Need Some Ideas

Every several weeks I see Dave Tarwater bringing some new tool (wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, etc.) It is like Christmas, the kids and I get really excited to see what we can do to use the technology in the classroom.
I just discovered the tools and graphics in the Smartboard software, they are awesome! We used one in Math to do division, it turned out great, the kids were way into it. We used another one in Science about the states of water.
1. I would like to start using blogs in my classes. I am familiar with, and have used blogger to create blogs for classes I teach during the summer, I really like it. I have looked at bloggmiester and gaggle blogs, is anyone using anything other than blogger in class? If you are what do you like not like?

2. I would like to have my students communicate with another class somewhere else in the world as part of our Weather unit next year and our plants unit (kind of like pen-pals). Does anyone have websites or resources of where I can find other Science teachers around the world that would be interested in collaborating in this way??

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Edublog Awards 2007 Finalists Announced!

Lots of Blogs and Wikis from around the world have been nominated in several categories. It is interesting to see the work of teachers as they embrace the collaborative aspects of Web 2.0. Check them out and cast a vote for your favorites. Will the Global Learners group have any nominees in 2008?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wiki work

I'm attempting to use my wiki in a "blackboard" sort of way. My students are posting their work to the wiki....this is as far as I've gotten so far! I feel good to have gotten this concept across to my language learners but please check it out! Today they will be posting paragraphs on pages they create themselves! I have small classes so I'm not too worried about stealing or manipulating other students' work....I don't think they have it completely figured out to be able to sabotage their classmates....hopefully it won't get to that!

check out our wiki and see what we're up to!

There is a link to American History Three and we are currently at causes of WWI! I would appreciate input and ideas! Feedback is awesome!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Learning 2.0: A Conversation

Save the date for Saturday February 23, 2007. Karl Fisch and Bud Hunt are organizing a Colorado conference focused on how the changing face of information is changing our classrooms.
Details will follow at:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I finished my research proposal

Yesterday I presented my research proposal...hopefully I won't have to change anything!
my question is: "what happens when English Language Learners are taught to blog?"
my sub questions ask:

  • Will writing achievement be affected?
  • will students see them selves as part of the classroom community?
  • Will students be more reflective about the content?
All of my students are ELL who are facing "double the work." According to Short and Fitzimmons (2007), the country is attempting to find solutions to trying to teach content, literacy and language to students at the same time. High-Stakes testing has created an environment where language learners must perform on tests in their second language. They must learn to read and write as adolescents in their second language at a time when they should be using reading and writing as a learning tool. On top of that, they must learn the content provided by the state and district standards.

My plan is to teach them to blog. I will slowly implement blogging as a reflective tool in my social studies classroom. My hope is that by the end of my research they will not only respond to teacher questions but, summarize, reflect, and internalize the course content. I also hope that they visit the blogs of other students to comment and connect.

Blogs and technology are an important tool and resource for our students to learn. Due to technological advances jobs and expectations of employees are rapidly changing. According to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, I am preparing my students for jobs that do not exist yet.

Okay, small "trailer" of my research. I'm hoping to being to quantify what we all know: technology makes a difference in the engagement and achievement of our students. After watching Darren and other educators successfuly integrate blogs I am excited to capture this process in my research. I believe that blogging creates an atmosphere of collaboration where, as Darren puts it, students become the experts!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who Owns Digital Content

In March Lawrence Lessig the revered Stanford Law Profesor and creator of Creative Commons delivered spellbinding TED Talk (TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design) about the future of copyright and creativity. The talk is outstanding for three reasons: (1) He explains our modern culture so that it is easily understood, (2) he addresses issues that are relevant to us as educators and important for us to teach to our students, and (3) he is one of the best visual presenters alive (in fact, his style of presentation is called the "Lessig Method").
Phot Credit (

As leaders in the field of 21st Century education we can learn a lot from this talk. However, I think we can learn even more by showing this talk to our students and colleagues and absorbing their reactions. You will not regret taking 19 minutes to watch this talk.

Watch the Lessig talk and tell me what you think. What do we teach our children to respect about digital content? How do we encourage our students to experiment and participate in digital cutlrue?

Friday, November 9, 2007

change will come from top down

I told Dave I'd share this video with him so I thought I'd post it. It is pretty popular so you may have already come across it. We were discussing the article that he posted earlier and how most schools aren't providing students what they need, except ours, of course. My thoughts are that when the changes start happening at the university level, then high schools across the country will start to listen and react. And trickle down from there.
Do you see colleges taking this seriously and making changes within our students time at college?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

21st Century Learning: 'We're Not Even Close'

Dave Nagel submitted an article titled 21st Century Learning: 'We're Not Even Close" in a recent edtion of THE Journal. In the article he reflects on a white paper released by ISTE, SETDA, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. This paper suggests that a there are 3 broad areas education needs to address: (1) Knowledge of core content is necessary but no longer sufficient for students to be successful in a competitive world (2) To keep pace with an ever changing world schools need to offer more rigorous, relevant, and engaging opportunities for students to learn (3) To be effective schools and classrooms, teachers need access to the tools and training in 21st century teaching and learning. I wish Mr. Nagel had the opportunity to see what you (the Global Learners) have done in your classrooms during this last trimester. I am convinced he would agree that while we are not totally there, the Global Learners and their students are well on the way. All of the reflections being posted tell me we are 'Getting Close'. As Chris Berman of ESPN says; It ... Could ... Go ... All ... The ... Way!

3 months down ...

Hi everyone. Im going to jump on the 3 month down bandwagon and leave a few reflections.

Some of the early frustrations in using the gizmo's and laptop carts were short lived. With practice the students have gotten better at loging into the website and actually doing the work. The feedback I have gotten from the kids is great. They seem to like the change of pace of using technology instead of same ol boring books. The things I have used most in class have been the smartboard and gizmo's. I did an internet scavenger hunt that was great, and found some math games like "who wants to be a math millionaire" to play on short days. Some things I would like to get better at using is my class website and blog.

I have learned that high school kids will not visit this stuff on their own time, but if I make it part of the class, then they enjoy it. I made the students reflect on the year and answer some questions on the class blog as part of the final exam. Check it out and see some of their answers. I posted formula sheets on the website and offered extra credit and let them use it in tests if they went online and printed it.

Im excited to be a part of this group and im looking forward to reading about what everyone else is doing. Lets make the next 2/3 rds even better

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

3 Months Down...

(This is cross posted on my blog)

With the first trimester over, there is much to reflect on. Tonia's post has spurred me to think about how much my teaching has changed this year, and it's changed so much that it is difficult for me to sit down and put it into words.

I am still experimenting with much of this technology. Am I "improving student achievement by the use of 21st century tools"? I have much that I will do better after having a year under my belt. I am learning as much from my missteps that I will apply to my teaching next year as I am learning from my successes. One goal I have for myself is to continue using our class blog to show student work, but to use it more as a place for students to reflect on their learning and to set goals for themselves, rather than just to post work. I wonder if I am doing an effective job of EETT, enhancing my students' education through technology. I have been so excited about some of the projects my students have completed. But when I step back, I wonder if it really enhanced, or just supplemented. Along this line of thinking, another goal I have is to post and comment to other blogs, especially Global Learners' blogs. I think the strength of this group lies in the potential for collaboration among colleagues in the same community facing similar challenges. In order for this collaboration to happen, I have to be more a more active participant. What are other GLs doing that is really going well? There is a vast network of teachers out there who are making technology work for them, I want to tap into this network more than I am now.

Successes... the Smartboard is great! I think one of the best parts of the SB is all of the resources that come with it. Students are interacting with the SB, especially during math and writing and are very excited. Wikis... I am using our class wiki as a place to put links to projects that my reading group is working on as part of their independent work. That has also worked really well. My students are much more focused during their time on the computer and can get right to work because everything they need is in one place. I thought I would be using the wiki as more of a professional collaboration tool by now, but I think that may be a goal that takes longer to achieve. My students completed videos on a planet they were studying using digital still or video cameras. Some of the videos were a little "thin" on real content, but there are parts of the planning I will do better next year. An unexpected benefit was that they were so excited about each other's projects that they learned much more about the solar system from each other than if they had been doing a written report or even a PowerPoint (or if they had been learning it from me?! Self-directed learning?!)

So?? What's happening with other Global Learners? I look forward to reading everyone else's reflection on the past 1/3rd year. I appreciate everyone's honest blog posts. It is always very refreshing to read a post that expresses frustration or disappointment in the outcome of a particular project... makes me feel that I am not the only one.

Moving forward...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Global Learner Round-UP

Hey Global Learners!!

Let's meet for lunch on Friday, November 9, 2007 (teacher work day).
It would be great to see everyone again
and have an awesomely geeked out conversation!

Reply to the post with ideas, comments, we can start coordinating!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Great SmartBoard Resources

I have been implementing the SmartBoard into 100% of my elementary math lessons and would like to report some experiences. It seemed to take the kids a while to get over the "wow" factor of the cool things we can do with an interactive whiteboard. Also, it takes a few tries to successfully write on the board for the kids, especially math problems, shapes, graphs, etc. But, after getting into the meat of the school year, I couldnt see myself teaching without one of these things. We now seamlessly go from taking notes, to seeing visuals, to manipulating numbers and shapes, to testing what we've learning without leaving the SmartBoard.

I've posted some lessons I've created on Central's website, and also would like to share some great web resources, where teachers from around the world have created SMART lessons for us to "borrow" especially created for standards-based interactive learning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Finally a great success

Well I made it through the day of the internet scavenger hunt and for the first time using the laptop cart I feel it was a 100% success!!! Finally. The hunt kept the students engaged and having them look for images and videos really worked. If you get a chance go to youtube and check out a video called Pythagorean Theorem - The Movie. It's hysterical. Also check out my class blog and read some of the comments the kids made. It seems the next great invention is flying cars!!

Internet Scavenger Hunt

Hi guys, just wanted to share an idea I had today. I am having my Geometry classes do an internet scavenger hunt on Pythagoras and the Pythagorean Theorem. There are about 10 questions on his history and I also ask the students to find a You Tube video. There is one called Pythagorean Theorem - The Movie, check it out it's hysterical. It stars Schwartzeneger and Matt Damon. I am also having them post on the class blog, tomasgeeimatree.blogspot
My first block class responded well. Check out the entries and respond as well.