Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oh, the possibilities!

From Darren
"Here's a cool tool: Answer Tips (see the badge at the bottom of the sidebar). As of right now if you double click on any word on this blog that isn't a link a bubble will appear to teach you something. ;-)"
-- What possibilities!

Answer Tips is now on this blog too (the badge is at the bottom of the page) hoping that it will encourage readers to think of the possibilities--
  • exposing students to new vocabulary in context
  • scaffolding for those who are challenged by reading (you can hear the word!)
  • excellent assistance to English language learners
  • and ---------

Friday, April 27, 2007

K-12 Online 2007!

I am extremely honored to be gearing up for K-12 Online 2007, the second annual conference for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice with Darren, Sheryl and Wes! We wanted to be sure that you are aware of the schedule and request your input as we work to design and develop an exceptional conference experience.

Conference Schedule

If you haven’t already, please mark your calendars with the following conference dates and plan to participate.
8-12 October 2007 Pre-Conference
15-19 October 2007 Week 1 (Strands 1 and 2)
22-26 October 2007 Week 2 (Strands 3 and 4)
27 October 2007 When Night Falls
All published times for the conference will be GMT, and links to time converters will be provided.

Requesting Input

We need your input! What topics would you like to see this year’s presentations address? What areas are of greatest interest and value to you?

In a comment to this posting on the conference blog, let us know your ideas. Your input will be invaluable in the planning of K-12 Online 2007.

Calls for Proposals
Next step will be issuing calls for proposals — within the next few weeks!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech-

“My grief lies all within,
And these external manners of lament
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
That swells with silence in the tortured soul”
---William Shakespeare

Sunday, April 15, 2007

For his courage and willingness to stand up--

It's not often that the essence of a man, especially a complicated man, can be summed up in one sentence. But then again, there haven't been many people like Jackie Robinson.

"A life is not important," he said, "except in the impact it has on other lives."--ESPN
Isn't this a man who should be known and respected by all young people today?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Weaving -- quite a tapestry!

Trying to wrap my brain around and weave together so much good reading in this last week and now it seems to be coming together. It started with the discussions at Weblogg-ed on a degree for social computing. Will continued with these questions (in a later post) that resonated with me!
"Can we systematically teach students to “see the big picture” in ways that will allow them to construct their own process that might actually come close to replicating that formal educational process?
Or do those types of potentials only come at a later age or from experiences that cannot be replicated in a K-12 system?"
I think good answers can be found in Chris Lehman’s comment to David Warlick’s post on SLA in Edutopia
• Chris Lehmann said,
April 8, 2007 @ 1:50 pm
Thank you… all of us at SLA were *thrilled* by that article — they really captured a sense of our school, we felt.
And you touch on something that I’m mulling in my brain, trying to get to a point where I can write about it coherently, but essentially it’s this:
It’s about the pedagogy — the power of all of our ideas — first and the technology second. At SLA, the technology tools we use inform/enable a constructivist / connectivist pedagogy, not the other way around. That’s why, I think, we have been able to build such a strong culture there in eight months, because it’s never just been about the laptop. In fact, when we interviewed kids for next year’s class, our students would really get upset if an interviewee answered the question, “Why do you want to come to SLA?” with “You all get laptops.”
I actually said “Yes!” out loud when I read that and knew a post should be brewing.

And then this from Chris at Practical Theory who really says it better than I ever could:
School 2.0, for me, is John Dewey's Constructivist dream made real by the use of 21st Century tools.

We must create schools that allow students to dig deep into the world of ideas, setting up structures where traditional subjects lines can be crossed. We must use the tools at our disposal to allow students to research, collaborate, create and communicate. And we must work side-by-side with our students, developing the relationships that the students need to learn how to navigate a changing and difficult world.

And then, every decision we make has to be in service of those ideas.
Twenty or thirty years younger, Chris, and I’d be one of your applicants to become a member of the SLA community!

It’s my sense that SLA is “systematically teach(ing) students to “see the big picture” in ways that will allow them to construct their own process that might actually come close to replicating that formal educational process.. “ as Will asks. I’m wondering if another piece that can help with that teaching is found in Mel Levine’s “The Essential Cognitive Backpack” in the most recent issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership. Just a snippet:
Cognitive Backpack Gear

Interpretation (becoming an in-depth comprehender)
• Forming, grasping, and applying concepts
• Accessing and using prior knowledge and experience
• Understanding through verbal, nonverbal, and experiential pathways
• Forming multiple vivid mental representations of new knowledge and ideas
• Monitoring degrees of comprehension
• Analyzing expectations (overt as well as unspoken)
• Systematically evaluating ideas, issues, people, and products
• Assessing opportunities
• Actively processing information inputs
• Balancing or integrating detail with the “big picture”
• Finding a balance between “top-down” and convergent thinking
Where would our students be given the right cognitive backpack and “John Dewey's Constructivist dream made real by the use of 21st Century tools”? Watching what happens here at SLA and here (these are projects from Darren Kuropatwa’s calculus classes; he has posted about Developing Expert Voices here) could provide a pretty exciting picture! What a great start!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Grace, Class, and Civility

During the current Imus firestorm, my stomach has churned and tightened into a hard knot, as it becomes more and more apparent how much more polarized and uncivilized our nation has grown to be. Racism and misogyny are alive and well in America. Even the comments at Practical Theory are evidence of this polarization and lack of civility. Chris has had to say:
”I just want to say that I am deleting any comments that devolve into personal attack. This is an issue that certainly is passionate and certainly people can disagree, however, comments that attack other commentors personally, instead of living in the world of ideas have no place.”
I had hoped that the Rutgers team would stay above the fray by remaining out of it. Initially I was dismayed when I learned they had agreed to meet with Imus. And then, on the Today Show, I was privileged to hear two very intelligent, very articulate, very classy ladies whose grace and civility reduced me to tears, coach C. Vivian Stringer and team captain Essence Carson. You can view the interview here. At one point Coach Stringer said:
“The society is what it is because of those in leadership roles…. If we don’t set the example, there can’t be a return to real decency. It starts with each one of us and what we do. As much as I would love to win a national championship, I would gladly exchange a national championship in order for there to be a better America.”
What can we each do today in order for there to be a better America?