Friday, December 26, 2008

Beverly Ingle on 21st century learning

Beverly Ingle, president of the Colorado Education Association has a video news conference out on YouTube talking about meeting the 21st century's challenges in our schools. In this video, she talks about the importance of preparing today's students for the challenges in the global marketplace. She mentions the importance of highly qualified teachers and mentions that quality teaching is the most important influence on student learning. Part of that quality teaching involves integrating technology in our classrooms and preparing our students to compete in the global economy. The skills that she mentions in preparing our students involve: analysis, critical thinking, evaluation, creative problem solving, and multiple communication skills. When questioned by a reporter on the challenges of teaching these skills to students she followed that all students have the ability to learn and added, more importantly in my opinion, that all teachers can also learn. I would add to that by saying that all teachers MUST learn to incorporate technology and critical thinking skills in their classrooms. I applaud Beverly Ingle in making this a priority. You can view her video here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's next?

Today's class discussion went really well. Not only did I have two other teachers in the room, but one teacher logged onto the live blogging from her room, and one student that was absent logged in from home and participated in the discussion online (which led to an interesting question and brief discussion about class participation). My next step is to really push to take this global, so I plan on giving more of a heads up to people, including those on Facebook, Twitter, etc. so that they can maybe better plan for the discussions. I would love to see not only educators and students involved, but anyone anywhere that might have something to say about the conversation. In the meantime, I'm really going to use their cell phones to my advantage: at the start of our next discussion, I'm going to have them take out their phones and text the question to at least one person that is not in the building then post the responses onto the live blog as a part of the discussion. I think that should be a lot of fun, and I'd bet I will get a really high level of participation with that! ;)

I was also pleased with how quickly the students adapted to having the live blog in the classroom, reading it and commenting on it, and even stopping the conversation when they wanted to address a point that had been made on the screen. They adapted really well and have made it a part of the classroom culture already, so I definitely think it's here to stay, at least for this class. I've also begun thinking of ways to collaborate within the building on this... live blogging represents some real possibility for cross-classroom and even cross-curricular conversations. A real plus is that it's really amazingly easy to use, and it doesn't require anything beyond a laptop and projector, so incorporating non-Global Learners will be a really easy thing to do. Let the walls continue to melt away! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Epistemology blog

So I've decided to make the big leap and I've created a separate blog for the epistemology class. My plan is to use (almost) every day, thus enabling others to join us when they can and want to. I'll likely pick different students, or get volunteers to do the typing throughout the discussion so I don't burn out any one particular student. If you're interested, here's the link to it... come and join us sometime. The discussions start at about 8:45 and run until 9:19 or so, and there will be a screen posted any time there will be a discussion.

Live blogging reminder

Just thought I'd remind people about our live blogging conversation that starts at 8:45. If you can, join us on my blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One of the coolest days EVER

Today in my 2nd block class we discussed the goal of education. My 2nd block is an epistemology class of juniors and seniors, and we always have some pretty amazing conversations, but for this one, I wanted more people involved, especially some of my colleagues, so I sent out an invitation to the staff inviting anyone that had that period off to come in and join us; then Tonia gave me the fantastic idea of using as part of the class for those who couldn't be there... it was GREAT! I had a student doing the blogging as we talked, and I recorded the conversation for podcasting later as well (yeah, I was totally and completely geeking out). The only downside was that Blogger didn't post up the whole conversation, so the comments of those who participated didn't show up- they were on a sidebar that got cut off. Another very strange thing is that when you look at the page itself, the blog appears to be in Latin; now I'm working with some of the best and brightest in the school, for sure, but we're not exactly fluent in Latin... I'm not that good! Fortunately, once you click on it, it goes to English, so it's really not a problem... it's just odd.

At any rate, there is a transcript of the class discussion and a podcast (Dec. 17), so anyone can listen in that wants to. I'm actually thinking of making that a regular part of the class now. It was a way cool way to dissolve the classroom walls, and I want to do it again. Dave is going to let me use a projector tomorrow as well, so that way the students can not only see the question posted, but they will also be able to follow along with the live blogging discussion.

Actually, since we didn't get to finish our conversation, we plan to continue it tomorrow. I will happily post up the link to it here and anyone who wants to join us on Coveritlive is welcome to do so. The class conversation will run from 8:45 until 9:15 or so. Come join us!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leadership Summit

The fourth grade Leadership Summit was on Friday, December 5th and it was a success.... mostly.
We had about 65 fourth graders answer the following questions via blog, Twitter and WizIq:
1.  What qualities do good leaders have?
2.  What problems exist that require good leadership?
3.  What obstacles stand in my way that prevent me from becoming a leader?
4.  What goals do I have to set to become a leader? Our Central Idea was:  Individuals impact society through their roles as leaders. 
We had 12 participants on the 90-minute WiziQ session, many from in district at the ESS building, a few classrooms and teachers in district and one fourth grade classroom in Beaufort, SC. We ended the day with about 220 comments on our blog. We had 2, count 'em 2 replies on Twitter. 

There were some technical issues on WizIq.  Nobody could use the whiteboard feature, participants who tried to connect with a mic and/or webcam ran into
problems.  I wrote to the WizIq help desk to ask about connection problems and the annotation feature and their reply was: 
"Regarding the connection, we generally recommend a connection with minimum bandwidth 512kbps for a good experience in a 2-way video session and around 256kbps for a 2-way audio session.. Each individual sees screens/ videos based on their bandwidth and only if they are active [speaking/ broadcasting/ writing] are others affected. 

The Annotation feature works if you transfer audio control [even in free version] to the participants."
I didn't have the audio control transfered, but it seemed to work fine on a couple of practice sessions we had before Friday.

I was passing the mic around to students, but it turned out that the audio was being picked up by the webcam, not the other external mic.  This is why people who joined us could hear me fine but not the students, I was standing right by the webcam, moving it from student to student.  

Twitter was a bust!  I'm a big fan of twitter but we updated around 98 times in 90 minutes and only got 2 replies!  I don't expect people to drop everything to reply and I know that mid morning isn't exactly high traffic time but 2??  I think I am trying to fit twitter in to a format where it doesn't fit.  I am wondering if I could set up a "chat room" type of space where kids sign on and discuss leadership in more of a live session.  As I looked at the tweets and even some of the blog comments, that is what kids were trying to do.  Any ideas of how I could do this?  Chatterous?  G Talk?  Skype?

I was pleased that all four fourth grade classes participated, but logistically it was tough to have that many people in one room.  They were in groups of about 10 and it was a little tough to have all students feel like they could just "act natural" and just interact in the WizIq session.  Last year I did this in groups of 7 and it was much easier.  I talked too much during the session, I would much rather have them lead the conversation.  Is this too much to expect from fourth graders?  We are going to try another "Summit" - type of activity in the spring around a different IB unit.  That will be a good opportunity to tweak some things. Students were unaware that there were any technical problems and were generally excited to share their knowledge with the world.

The conversation continues... My students are doing leadership actions such as helping students in other classes, reshelving books in the media center, a couple of students are planning on planting plants in our courtyard in the spring.  They are earning red "I am a Leader" bracelets for their efforts.  If you or your students would still like to comment on our blog, please do so.  I am also uploading pictures of the session on the sidebar of that blog.

(Thanks so much to those who attended: Joe, Kelly, Liz, Kate.  Thanks Dave for all your help in the days leading up to and during the Summit.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Smartboard Lesson

I hope everyone is sitting down because you are NOT going to believe this!!!!!!!!!
Last year at this time I barely even knew what a smartboard was. This weekend I created 2 smartboard lessons of my own! The first one was on singular and possessive nouns. It was nothing special, but at least I figured out how to create a lesson. The second one though is quite fancy! OK--maybe not fancy but I am very proud. It is on money. Kate and Lisa, if you would like to use it, let me know. I am happy to share. My class thinks I am a real genious because I made my own. We won't tell them otherwise.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

IB MYP 9th grade science students visited the freerice website this week to be reminded that we can make a difference in solving the world's hunger problem. My 90+ students each spent 15 minutes interacting with the programs on and had donated 289900 grains of rice which is enough rice to feed 14.5 people for a day. The top scores were: pd 2 - Sandi (4200), Kyle (4060), Stephanie (3960); pd 3 - Angel (6300), Gio (6000),Nick (5600); pd 4 Francisco (5200), David (4840), Augustina (4760); and pd 5 - Samantha (4920), Sydney (4440) and Juan (4200). Blog activity can be accessed here.

According to the website:

FreeRice is a sister site of Our partners are the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World Food Program.

FreeRice has two goals:

1. Provide education to everyone for free.
2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your education can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.

From wikipedia: this is a website where users play a various educational multiple-choice games in order to raise money to fight world hunger.

The games include chemistry (basic and intermediate), multiplication tables, English vocabulary (the game the site began with), English grammar, basic foreign language vocabulary for English speakers (French, German, Italian, and Spanish), geography (world capitals and country identification), and art.

Currently, for every question answered correctly, twenty grains of rice are donated to impoverished areas of the world. It is considered an extremely remarkable event, with many schools having classes use the site for extended periods of time.

Thanks for your time and attention. Thanks to Teri Dahn, librarian at ACHS, for showing me this site! This activity supports the IB MYP criterion "One World".

Friday, December 5, 2008

First Grade Research Project

What is the most challenging project you've ever completed with your students?

I think I found mine! Just before Thanksgiving students began learning about celebrations around the world. To begin the unit students completed a research project about a holiday. In pairs, students chose a holiday and asked three open-ended questions about their holiday. After they had their questions, students set out to find answers via a guided trip through the internet. After they found acceptable answers to their questions, pairs were ready to learn how to create a photostory. Our 4th grade blogging buddies volunteered to help the first graders find pictures and create their videos.

You can listen and view the videos on our Let's Celebrate page on our website. Students will soon have their meteorologist reports on our Weather page.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kinder and First Grade Collaborative Reflection

Dorothy (Kinder at Rose Hill) and I (First Grade at Alsup) hosted our initial collaborative lesson.

Lesson Overview/Objective (Original) - Students will collaboratively create a pictograph with another class as an introduction to Data and Graphs. Small groups (11) from each class would complete a pictograph representing the number of letters in their names. Using Dabbleboard, students would write their name, then the other class would move the name to the correct vertical position on the pictograph. This continued alternately for 10 students to put their information on the collaborative whiteboard.

*ALL students were excited about being on camera.
*Students were initially engaged as they saw each other through the web camera.
*Students from both classes received an introduction to graphing.
*Students collaborated within their own classroom as well as through the web.

*Everyone wanted to have their 15 seconds of fame!
*Explaining to 5, 6, and 7 year olds about the internet delay.

Ideas for Improvement
*Use smaller groups (maybe eight from each class).
*Give students more opportunity to be on camera.

We're excited to try our next project and we're thinking about using Dabbleboard or Twiddla. Using the online whiteboards are a challenge for both of us, but we think they offer a great resource to capitalize on the abilities of our students.

smartboard math

I just started my favorite math unit to teach all year- money. 2nd graders need to understand and model use of coins up to $1.00. For one of my math centers I run Ms. Ibarra’s store where students identify the price for items and the coins they will need to buy them. I also run a coin behavior incentive system where the students earn (paper) coins for behavior throughout the day to put in their piggy banks. At the end of the month the students use their coins to buy real items at the store I set up the day before winter break.

I have been doing this with paper coins but I was wondering if there is a way I could incorporate technology into this process? Ideas? Maybe an Excel sheet where they enter and add their daily earned coins?

With my coin unit, I found a sweet counting song video on TeacherTube. However, when I play it half of the video is covered with a white square. I tried to download it and the file isn’t Windows Media supported so I couldn’t play it. Anyone else had this problem or know any solutions?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Regina and I had a great day! We worked on our collaborative project. I learned how to do Voicethread. It is really cool and I can't wait to start using it in my classroom. I am going to have my students write and solve a story problem, which we have been working on throughout the year. Regina's students will then comment on the problems. I think my students will enjoy this experience and love having high school students look at their work!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We just paid for this service and I must say it is awesome!!! It is a wonderful way to collaborate with students as well as hold them accountable. There are peer review and web2.0 options.
Turnitin (also known as is an Internet-based plagiarism-detection service created by iParadigms, LLC. Institutions (typically universities and high schools) buy licenses to submit essays to the Turnitin website, which checks the document for plagiarism.
Students may be required by schools to submit essays to Turnitin, as a deterrent to plagiarism. This has been a source of criticism, with some students refusing to do so in the belief that requiring it constitutes a presumption of guilt. Additionally, critics have alleged that use of the software violates educational privacy and intellectual property laws.
Parent company iParadigms, LLC, also offers a similar plagiarism detection service for newspaper editors and book publishers called iThenticate, and run the informational website Other services marketed under the Turnitin brand are aimed at the educators' market, such as grade marking and peer review services.
Checkout the User Guide and ACHS website...