Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Creative idea, really.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I feel fortunate to have placed an order for the XO laptop on the first day of the Give One Get One offer. This makes me a "Day 1 Donor", an honor for which I even receive a badge. (See badge in blog sidebar). Apparently, this means that I will have my little green laptop before December 24. I say "apparently" because I won't believe it until I see it. But, that's ok. I've done a little volunteer work on the project by posting some content to the educators page on the OLPC Wiki. I hope that actually having the laptop will provide some insight and inspiration for further content contributions. If you are a teacher, and you would like to contribute, just visit the educators page at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Educators
There is a series of steps to this process, all of which have to work out, for an online collaboration to take place. First, you have to locate another teacher who shares your vision or interests. Once you make contact, it's important to communicate effectively and work together to set up realistic time lines. Finally, both sides must be flexible when obstacles pop up that change the original plan. I can't seem to get past step one.
So, this leads to another thought. Perhaps collaboration begins at home. Maybe I don't have to go halfway around the world for effective collaboration. (Though, I am going to keep working on this.) My third graders are working with another class of seventh graders at our school. They are writing about what life would be like if you lived in a .... This is taking collaboration beyond my classroom walls and benefiting both groups here at home. I'm learning a lot about running a good project that will hopefully help once we find a worthy online project.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I'm taking a Teacher Leadership course at UF. The professor approved a continuation of the Teach Web 2.0 project, so I was able to do a lit review focusing on what motivates teachers to integrate technology in the classroom. One common thread is social interaction. I'm posting that lit review here in the hopes that the blog can continue to serve as a history of this experiment.
Teach Web 2.0 Literature Review
The Teach Web 2.0 Consortium is a wisdom community of teachers and administrators who research new Web 2.0 resources, evaluate their appropriateness at different levels, and collaborate on innovative curriculum design. The project is taking place at a K12 independent school in St. Petersburg, Florida and seeks to provide a resource of information about social networking for classroom teachers and administrators. It also offers a democratic process for evaluating social networking sites and their potential use to determine whether blocking a site is warranted. The consortium meets bi-weekly and collaborates via an online wiki. The wiki serves as a repository for group findings and a means of capturing historic data that can be updated as new resources come available. It is also on the Internet providing an avenue for those outside of the school to participate.
This alone would provide a useful service to the school and community. However, the desired outcome and ultimate goal of the consortium is to increase use of technology among k-12 teachers thereby positively impacting student learning. Effective cultural change in a school takes place from the inside out (Norum, 1999). Teachers should buy in, and they must accept change on their own terms. This literature review explores what motivates teachers to increase their use of technology so that these principles can be applied to the Teach Web 2.0 project.
Web 2.0 represents a more collaborative, interactive Internet where individuals can easily share and contribute to global conversations. This new web offers so many opportunities for educational applications, but teachers are challenged by their resistance to change, the rate at which new tools are emerging, network security issues, and Internet safety concerns. Despite these challenges, students have embraced social networking and are actively using these tools in their private lives (Goodstein, 2007).
It would be impossible for just one or two teachers to stay abreast and evaluate all of these resources alone. By establishing a consortium, more individuals are available to assess these tools, examine options, and consider their potential use in the classroom. In addition, the consortium will provide a relatively safe and non-threatening learning environment where teachers and administrators can work collaboratively.
Literature and Project Design
Common barriers to technology integration include lack of a well-defined vision, limited skill, and lack of administrative support (Finley, 2004). Before launching the consortium, the project was pitched to the head of school and principals of each division. All agreed to support the project, sign for FCIS accreditation points, and include participation as an indicator of technology leadership on yearly teacher review documentation. The vision was presented to the entire faculty during pre-school week with obvious support from administration. Teachers were assured that participation was voluntary and that minimal technology skills were required. One of the key components for change is administrative support (Norum, 1999). The faculty would not accept this project without the critical approval and participation of the administrators.
We must also recognize and respect the teacher learning process. Sahin identifies five stages of technology adoption: teacher as learner, teacher as adopter, teacher as co-learner, teacher as reaffirmer or rejecter, and finally teacher as leader (Sahin, 2007). The consortium design facilitates a journey through these stages. New technologies are presented with resource links for participants to review. Individuals in the group come together as co-learners to figure out how the tool or site works. Some members of the group will choose to adopt the new technology, others may choose to affirm or reject it. Those who follow through become the leaders from whom the others learn. The process is repeated for each new social networking tool or site.
The collegial aspect of the consortium provides a support structure for participants. “Support is a major part of making changes, particularly when the change alters your professional identity and role. Learning from the experiences of each other can alleviate discomfort and anxiety associated with such changes” (Norum, 1999, pg. 187). Wesley Fryer further asserts, “teachers are best convinced by other teachers” (Fryer, 2004, pg. 12). “Those who are forced to use technology will use the minimum required” (Fryer, 2004, pg. 12). The consortium is voluntary and teachers are expected to work together, helping each other learn. It is pitched as an experiment with all the possibilities for success and failure in a non-threatening, nurturing environment.
Project TALENT, a pilot program in California, used a learning community of k12 master teachers, student teachers, and supervisors to model effective technology use in the classroom (Sherry, 2004). A number of important findings emerged from the project. Teachers were enthusiastic about their experience. Participants in the learning community started using various tools such as digital cameras and iMovie in their teaching. A teacher who moved to another school began to pass those experiences on at the new school. Other teachers began to show a greater interest in technology. Students in these schools began using technology in different ways more often. Sherry found that “implementing learning communities at the school will increase technology skills and leadership skills for the members of the learning community” (Sherry, 2004, pg. 294).
While there is structure around the consortium research process, teachers are encouraged to explore beyond the formal meeting sessions. Informal conversations take place throughout the weeks between sessions. This is important because teachers believe informal collaboration is more effective than that in a formal group (Stevenson, 2004). It should take place spontaneously, not separated from other professional conversation. The amount of collaboration is influenced by time and teachers’ perceived value (Stevenson, 2004). Stevenson also points out that informal collaboration with regard to technology is focused in two areas, sharing curriculum ideas and figuring out how to use a technology. Teachers discern between teacher-helpers who provide curriculum ideas and those who provide user support (Stevenson, 2004). The facilitators of the consortium are fellow teachers who are recognized as helpers in both focus areas.
The Teach Web 2.0 Consortium is meant to be a learning community of volunteer teachers who are interested in exploring social networking sites and tools in a non-threatening collegial atmosphere. Principles highlighted in the literature have been applied to create an environment conducive to the ultimate adoption of new technologies and transference to the classroom so that student learning is impacted. The hope is that even a handful of teachers who embrace these new technologies will influence those around them. If the project is successful, it has been designed to transfer easily to other schools and districts.
Bebell, D., et. al., Measuring Teachers' Technology Uses: Why Multiple-Measures Are More Revealing. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 37 no. 1 (Fall 2004) p. 45-63
Finley, L., et. al., Institutional Change and Resistance: Teacher Preparatory Faculty and Technology Integration. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 12 no. 3 (2004) p. 319-37
Fryer, W. A. Working with Reluctant Teachers. Technology & Learning v. 25 no. 11 (June 2005) p. 12
Goodstein, Anastasia. (2007). Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online. New York. St. Martin’s Press.
Hughes, J. E., et. al., Content-Focused Technology Inquiry Groups: Preparing Urban Teachers to Integrate Technology to Transform Student Learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 36 no. 4 (Summer 2004) p. 397-411
Norum, K. E., et. al., Healing the universe is an inside job: teachers' views on integrating technology. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 7 no. 3 (1999) p. 187-203
Sahin, I., et. al., Analysis of Predictive Factors That Influence Faculty Members' Technology Adoption Level. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 15 no. 2 (2007) p. 167-90
Sherry, L., et. al., Project TALENT: Infusing Technology in K-12 Field Placements Through a Learning Community Model. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 12 no. 2 (2004) p. 265-97
Shuldman, M. Superintendent Conceptions of Institutional Conditions That Impact Teacher Technology Integration. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 36 no. 4 (Summer 2004) p. 319-43
Stevenson, H. J. Teachers' Informal Collaboration Regarding Technology. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 37 no. 2 (Winter 2004/2005) p. 129-44
Vannatta, R. A., et. al., Teacher Dispositions as Predictors of Classroom Technology Use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 36 no. 3 (Spring 2004) p. 253-71
Zhao, Y., et. al., Teacher adoption of technology: a perceptual control theory perspective. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 9 no. 1 (2001) p. 5-3
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Here's what I did, and it was all prompted by the site.
1. Selected some Florida pics from a folder I already had on my computer.
2. Picked a free song from the site.
3. It made my movie...special effects and all! UNBELIEVABLE - in a FEW MINUTES!!!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
My blog is very new, so I don't have many readers. But, I have a lot of great blogs that I really enjoy. So, this will be fun. Here goes...
1. Post these rules before you give your facts.
2. List 8 random facts about yourself.
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.
Eight Random Facts About ME
- I love heavy metal music. That surprises most people who know me.
- I play the piano badly, but I really wish I played well.
- My undergrad degree is in Criminal Justice. I never used it, but I think that's why I love those crime shows on Court TV and A&E.
- My favorite tv shows are The Daily Show and Colbert Report. I hate reality TV.
- I have an awesome son who is about to turn 14.
- I have three step daughters (also wonderful) who are like my own children.
- Knitting is one of my obsessive hobbies.
- I'm one of the few Florida natives.
Eight great ed tech blogs I'm tagging...
- The Other Side of the Desk
- The Thinking Stick
- Musings from the Academy
- mLearning World
- Virtual Learning Worlds
- EdTech Cool
- Cultivating Minds
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
What are some ways to effectively use the collaborative aspects of a wiki with elementary curriculum? I've been pondering that question and jotting down some ideas. I'm thinking of setting up a class learning space wiki with pages for each subject area. My thinking so far...
Writing - Introduce the six traits of writing by posting an excerpt for each trait. Students change the text to improve upon the trait in focus. We can refer back to these examples as we apply the six traits to our writing over the year.
Spelling - Our spelling lessons are organized by rule. Wouldn't it be interesting to post the rule, then ask students to find words that reflect that rule? As the year progresses, we have documented all of the rules along with examples. Think wiki word wall.
Math - Create number collection boxes in which each student posts a different name for the number. Example: 64 is... 8x8, 60+4, 100-36, a photograph of 64 toothpicks. Another collaborative idea - each student creates a number story. Students go back and solve someone else's story. As part of the geometry unit, students find or take photos representing shapes, parallel, perpendicular, angles, etc. The photos are posted in a visual geometry museum.
Social Studies - We study Florida, Native Americans, and explorers. Students create collaborative journal entries for historical figures or fictional members of a culture. Each student contributes one or two sentences reflecting upon the life of that person. Collectively, we end up with a more complete view of the world from another's perspective.
Still thinking about science and reading. Ultimately, I want to push the collaborative effort beyond the walls of our classroom. There's a lot of talk about this, but it's difficult to get other students and classes out there to contribute without planning ahead. Even then, teachers often have different views of how a collaboration should proceed. So, I'm still noodling it over and keeping an open mind. In the meantime, we'll start locally and encourage others to contribute globally...that's a first step.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) is hosting a Summer of Content to facilitate the development of educational content for the program. This is a unique opportunity to make a difference in a big way by directly contributing lessons and curricular units.
If you're not familiar with OLPC, you can learn more about the vision here. The goal is to "provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves" via a $100 laptop, designed to transform education for the world's poorest children. Nicholas Negroponte (founder) views OLPC as "an education project, not a laptop project." I love this viewpoint because hardware alone will never make the impact that a full educational revolution can make. In order for that to happen, people need to get involved.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
identify educators who would be interested in talking about their vision of what they could do if every child had home access to a computer with a real high speed connection (think FTTH [fiber to the home] with speeds of 30 mbps or more).
To contribute ideas visit http://www.speedmatters.org/contact.html
Here's my vision...
I am a teacher. If every child had high speed access, I would disregard the textbooks. Children would learn and work collaboratively on real problems posed by other children. They would speak directly to experts, work with primary sources of information, create new content for others to learn, and navigate the read, write web with intelligence, finesse, and responsibility. Their parents and extended family would participate in their learning no matter where they live. They would learn diversity by communicating with children across socioeconomic and physical boundaries. They would start to solve the world's problems with dialogue across these boundaries, as well. They would debate, argue, agree, and disagree passionately with support from an endless supply of sources. They would learn how to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable sources. They would use this power to create new ways to communicate and change the world.
By posting the words on this board, I force myself to apply these technologies in my classroom in the coming year. My students have been blogging for the last two years and Google is an everyday tool. However, in the coming year I hope to expand the student blogs and have the class explore some kid-friendly alternatives to the Google search engine. As I consider podcasts, wikis, and Scratch, I realize that I have a lot of creative thinking to do, not to mention coming up with an effective way to teach all these tools without side tracking the curriculum too much.
At just about the moment when my head was about to explode from all this thinking, an old friend surfaced on the KidCast Podcast. (No, I'm not really a personal friend of Bernie Dodge, Father of the WebQuest. But, the first time I tried to use QuestGarden, I sent him an email and he responded personally. I found that very cool. He was in the Peace Corp, too. Also very cool.)
HEY!!! Why am I hurting my head struggling with how to spoon feed my students when they could be feeding themselves? That's it! I'm going to make a WebQuest to introduce these tools and let the children teach themselves and each other. Once they're all comfortable with the tools, they can decide how we should use them creatively and educationally in the classroom. They ALWAYS come up with better ideas than me. I'll post the link when it's finished. THANKS BERNIE!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I often read business books that I think will help me in the classroom. In addition to Made to Stick, I recently read Strengths Finder 2.0. The book includes access to an online test to identify your top five strengths out of a list of 34 themes and ideas for action. I wasn't too blown away by my top five, but I did find them interesting from a professional perspective.
Learner, Achiever, Futuristic, Ideation, Intellection.
My guess is that many teachers have the "learner" strength. We love to learn and teaching gives us the chance to be a lifelong learners. Futuristic certainly explains the interest in technology. I love ideas, but don't always follow through. For that, I need to buddy up with an "activator". Intellection doesn't necessarily mean I have a great intellect. It just means I like to think. (Hmmmm, I'll have to think about that.)
What does this mean for the classroom? To me, it's just another tool (like MI or learning styles) that highlights human diversity. If I'm senstive to my students' strengths I can better help them appreciate the strengths of others. But, I also remind myself that my students' strengths are still under construction. They need opportunities to try them all.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Many teachers are unfamiliar with emerging social networking tools. Those who are aware have legitimate concerns about appropriate use in the classroom. Creating a K-12 Web 2.0 consortium of teachers who will research new social networking tools, evaluate their use, and brainstorm educational applications would provide a knowledge framework for those who want to learn more. The goal of this article review was to explore possible instructional design models that would maximize the learning potential of this community.
Most traditional instructional design models are adaptable to a wide variety of instructional situations. All seem to require some level of planning, design, development, and evaluation. Some variation of this process could be applied to create a learning community. But, might there be benefits to custom design methods created specifically for building effective virtual learning communities? This question prompted a search that initially spanned three topic areas: creating virtual learning communities, instructional design methodologies for learning communities, and social construction of knowledge as a pedagogical foundation for instructional design. A number of articles were reviewed that provided a deeper understanding of the pedagogical foundations in constructivist theory and computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL). However, the literature was narrowed to focus on two articles, one that defined the educational design of different virtual learning communities, and another that outlined an instructional design model for building wisdom communities.
Categories of Virtual Learning Communities for Educational Design, by Rocci Luppicini identifies the following categories of virtual learning communities: knowledge building, inquiry, practice, culture, socialization, and counseling and development (Luppicini, 2003). While Luppicini does not define an expressed instructional design model per se, he does offer distinguishing characteristics of each type of learning community and necessary elements for successful implementation. These are certainly useful components of design.
Participants in virtual learning communities of knowledge building may initially work independently or in groups with the ultimate goal of contributing the collective information to all participants. Used primarily for formal learning, design elements include active moderators and opportunity for input from outside the community. Virtual learning communities of inquiry bring people together with a common purpose or goal. Everyone shares the responsibility for contributing content conducive to meeting that goal. Also a formal learning environment, members are encouraged to collaborate to meet the goal. Virtual learning communities of practice provide a means for practicing a role or learning a skill or profession. It can serve as an apprenticeship for those roles or professional practices. Designed for a structured, formal learning experience, the goal is to assimilate into the professional practice by collaborating with others while following the structured guidelines. Virtual communities of culture bring together people with similar histories or traditions to share values and customs in an informal learning setting. Virtual communities of socialization focus on participants with common interests who seek to communicate or socialize with other like-minded people. Virtual communities of counseling and development provide group support. Their purpose is to facilitate individual growth (Luppincin, 2003).
Our proposed K12 Web 2.0 Consortium overlaps the virtual communities of knowledge building and inquiry. Knowledge building “allows members to construct communal databases of information” (Luppincin, 2003, p. 411). One group goal is to research and archive information about Web 2.0 applications. Another group goal is to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats posed by various social networking tools and make decisions about their use in school. Inquiry communities apply the principals of problem-based learning. “Participants in problem-based learning work in groups to solve real problems that are often complex and require seeking out a variety of resources to generate possible solutions” (Luppincin, 2003, p. 412). The following design elements should be considered when creating the K12 Web 2.0 learning community: active moderation, focus on learning goals, relay importance of individual expression while emphasizing responsibility to contribute and collaborate, and opportunity for outsiders to participate (Luppincin, 2003).
Once the virtual learning community is defined, and design elements are considered, a formal instructional design process provides a framework for executing the project. New Model, New Strategies: Instructional design for building online wisdom communities by Charlotte N. Gunawardena, et al. defines learning innovation as the “purposeful creation, sharing, and preservation of meaningful, socially constructed ideas” (Gunawardena, et al., 2006, p. 221). It further asserts that “the practical benefits of knowledge innovation include the ability to get the right information to the right people, ensure that knowledge is not lost (even when community membership changes), and enable communities to more readily build on past successes and learn from challenges” (Gunawardena, et al., 2006, p. 221). Knowledge innovation unfolds in phases. Community participants create knowledge. That knowledge is then recorded and accessed by others. Knowledge is enabled once participants know how to use it.
Gunawardena, et al. identifies five steps in the instructional design process of building wisdom communities. The following is a summary of the WisCom process:
1. Learning Challenge – Participants view a case study, identify a problem, or expose and issue. Design should include open-ended, authentic performance tasks that benefit from sharing opinions. Skill level and prior knowledge must be considered. The communication model should promote creative, orderly discussion and input.
2. Initial Exploration – Individual ideas are shared with the goal of fostering a shared group identity over time. Expectations, ground rules, obligations, and communication avenues are defined and communicated. System for recording is established with provision for feedback cycle. Evaluation method is considered.
3. Resources - Individual perspectives are challenged and negotiated. Mentors with appropriate level of expertise are selected to help facilitate this process.
4. Reflection – Time is allotted for individual reflection and thinking. Some structure and guidance may be provided.
5. Preservation – Share content is recorded and preserved. Concept maps were provided as one useful tool for constructing and preserving knowledge.
(Gunawardena, et al., 2006)
Other instructional design methods may be applicable to components of the virtual learning community. However, the WisCom Model provides enough structure and guidance to initiate and support the development of our K12 Web 2.0 Consortium. The learning challenge for this wisdom community is to research new social networking tools, evaluate their use, and brainstorm educational applications. Each of these goals also represents the open-ended tasks assigned to group members. A context and procedure for identifying and researching social networking tools will serve as the initial exploration. A wiki or collaborative blog could be used as a system for recording. Technology experts within and outside of the school will be selected as potential resources for the project. Once the initial review is complete, time will be allotted for reflection with a structured rubric for completing this process. The wiki can further serve as an archive for the preservation of project outcomes and recommendations from the consortium. It will be interesting to apply the model to this and other projects to determine its applicability to different types of virtual learning communities.
Gunawardena, Charlotte; Ortegano-Layne, Ludmila; Carabajal, Kayleigh; Frechette, Casey; Lindemann, Ken; Jennings, Barbara. (2006) New Model, New Strategies: Instructional design for building online wisdom communities, Distance Education. 27:2, 217-232.
Luppicini, Rocci. (2003) Categories of Virtual Learning Communities for Educational Design, The Quarterly Review of Distance Education. 4:4, 409-416.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
This is not my first blog attempt. I find that I do much better blogging about topics that can be covered in a few sentences. I'm a high level writer. My knitting blog is easy because I just post pics of projects and brief comments about them. Professional blogs have been associated with specific projects like my students' collaborative blog with preservice teachers from the University of Florida. I ran out of content for my geocaching blog when I ran out of time to geocache. It takes time to maintain a blog. So, why start again with Teach Web 2.0?
Recently, a number of events have converged to light a fire under my keyboard.
- I just completed an Ed.S in Ed Tech from UF. I tend to get reflective upon completing a major goal (maybe because I actually have a minute to think). I've been contemplating what is really important to me personally and professionally.
- I learned about and became very interested in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. I realized that children in third world countries will be using Web 2.0 tools to learn. Yet, even the most technologically progressive schools in America remain chained to textbooks and industrial age methods of instruction.
- After reconnecting with some old corporate friends, I remembered my day-to-day activities...web conferencing, teleconferencing, instant messaging, emailing, collaborating in online workrooms (think wiki). My 13-year old does all of these things...at home... and virtually none of them at school. Is that a good thing? Just about the time I was thinking this, I read Alan November's "Banning Student Containers". Not every social networking tool is appropriate for school. But, many of them could be. Ten years ago my students were creating web pages. Why haven't things changed more quickly?
- I started an instructional design course toward my Ph.D and recruited a colleague to join me. Two heads are definitely better than one when it comes to strategies for change.
- Share ideas for teaching for the future.
- Share brainstorms and Web 2.0 projects that I'm doing with my own students.
- Post papers and assignments related to ed tech.