Mrs. Vance Goes To School

Learning and Teaching with Technology

The Trouble with Black Boys – – by Pedro A. Noguera / Education Rights / In Motion Magazine

Posted by MrsVance on January 6, 2009

I am not quite finished reading this. And when I finish I am going to need to re-read and digest it. This is a fascinating look at a real problem that schools/society does not seem to be adequately addressing.

The Trouble with Black Boys – – by Pedro A. Noguera / Education Rights / In Motion Magazine

The effects of growing up in poverty, particularly for children raised in socially isolated, economically depressed urban areas, warrants greater concern, especially given that one out of every three Black children is raised in a poor household.(20) Here the evidence is clear that the risks faced by children, particularly African American males, in terms of health, welfare, and education, are substantially greater.(21) A recent longitudinal study on the development of children whose mothers used drugs (particularly crack cocaine) during pregnancy found that when compared to children residing in similar neighborhoods from similar socio-economic backgrounds, the children in the sample showed no greater evidence of long term negative effects. This is not because the incidence of physical and cognitive problems among the sample was not high, but because it was equally high for the control group. The stunned researchers, who fully expected to observe noticeable differences between the two groups, were compelled to conclude that the harmful effects of living within an impoverished inner-city environment outweighed the damage inflicted by early exposure to drugs.(22)

I have seen a similar observation elsewhere – Berkley researchers are using EEG technology to document this phenomenon.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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Negro League Player Interview Project

Posted by MrsVance on December 11, 2008

One of the first stories in our basal reader is “Teammates“, written by Peter Goldenbock and illustrated by Paul Bacon, which tells the tale of Jackie Robinson’s integration of modern major league baseball. Students like this story. The girls like the triumph of good over evil and the boys like it all, especially the baseball. This story is followed by a two page excerpt, “Baseball Legends”, by James Kelly from the DK Eyewitness book, Baseball. This excerpt is about some of the stars in the Negro Leagues.

We spent the last few months working on a project based on these two stories. I provided many additional books about the Negro Leagues (One of the best is We Are the Ship, by Kadir Nelson) and gave the students computer lab time for research. My students worked in pairs to research a Negro League player and create a script of an interview with that player. Once I reviewed the script the students used Audacity to record the interview, with one student playing the part of the interviewer and one student playing the part of the baseball player. After much re-recording and editing, most of the projects are now posted on our wikispace.

Yesterday six of my students traveled to Dayton (about an hour away) to present our project at the SOITA Conference. I chose the students based on the quality of their finished product. Three teams really stood out and those six students represented our class. Three students focused on Audacity and three on Wikispaces. We had a spectacular time.

Throughout the day I heard from the students that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The students thanked me multiple times for taking them on this trip.

Now please remember, we traveled just about an hour away from home. It’s not like we went to Disney World or anything! But they were so happy and grateful. In all honesty, this was a great deal of work. I am still not totally caught up. But the trip would have been worth it at ten times the hassle, just because of the gratitude of my students.

Time after time I have read or heard about how we need to help our students find an audience. I know that I believed this to be true. But I kept putting it off for a multitude of reasons. No more! After experiencing the energy of my students yesterday, I now BELIEVE! And I can guarantee I will actively pursue opportunities to allow my students to showcase their work on an ongoing basis.

And if you have a chance, take a listen to their recordings at our wikispace.

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Posted by MrsVance on November 26, 2008

I wonder if it is possible to become involved in Web 2.0 tools and not develop a Personal Learning Network?

Until this week, I would have said, “Yes!”

I would have admitted to have been dabbling in Web 2.0 for the last year and a half. But I would have denied being involved in a Personal Learning Network. For one thing it seems presumptuous to claim to be in a network with someone that I do not know, and who does not know me. I would be tempted to say this is a symptom of being a “digital immigrant”, except my experience as a parent and as a teacher has been that the digital natives are much more likely to use Web 2.0 tools to extend face to face relationships than they are to create new relationships in the cloud.

But this week I have hit a few brick walls that I could not conquer without the help of the network.

I have leaned some things from the network in the past. But this week, I have short deadlines and needed faster answers than I could find on my own. So I sent some requests out over Twitter.

Where do you find music for a podcast? @cummminsl and @brianmullnl responded with a delicious link and respectively. First problem solved.

Is it even possible to upload and link to an audio file in wikispaces? @jeffmason and @Thespian70 assured me that it is indeed possible. @jeffmason also sent a link to a great example of a wikispace with audio embedded in the manner that I proposed to embed my audio. And @jswiatek sent me a link that explained exactly how to do what I wanted to do.

Does this mean that these wonderful people are part of my Personal Learning Network? And this is where I get that tight feeling in my gut, like I am making a HUGE assumption about a relationship that does not really exist. I certainly learned something from them. But doesn’t the phrase Personal Learning Network imply that they might learn something from me also? Which is unlikely in the extreme.

Perhaps my original question should have been –

     “Does interaction via Web 2.0 tools make one a part of a Personal Learning Network?”

In the short run the answer to this question does not really matter. No matter the relationship or lack thereof, some very knowledgable people were kind enough to help me this week. I offer my most sincere thanks.

In the long run, I feel like I have had a conversion experience that I must explore further.

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Teaching Typing

Posted by MrsVance on October 14, 2008


I am really tired of teaching typing in my computer lab class. This year I started all classes from third through eighth on typing. Third, fourth and fifth will continue with typing until mid-year. The middle school will move on at the end of this first quarter.

This is by far the longest I have stayed on typing with the middle school. But every time I talked with my students (or others) who had moved on to high school about what tech skills they really needed when they got to high school, EVERYONE mentioned typing skills.

I spend most of my time during typing lessons walking around the lab, watching the students type, praising good technique and haranguing the students to use the home row keys. I get on my own nerves most days. Imagine my surprise today as I was effusively praising one student and the young man on my left pipes in with, “And what about me!”

It made me think.

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NECC – Prevent Powerpoint Poisoning

Posted by MrsVance on July 1, 2008

NECC – Prevent PowerPoint Poisoning with Engaging Project Starters and Sidekicks
by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson

Can use any of their materials from the website.

Don’t just assign ‘do a powerpoint’ – must be more specific – such as compare and contrast – ie higer level thinking skills –

Danger Signs – laminated lesson plans – business thinking – google, copy, paste

Powerpoint – 2 spaces – 1 space – learning space – the layout, design, speaker notes space.

Example: give an old picture – in the speaker notes write the instructions for the assignment – have them make up a story about the characters in the picture, then add speech bubbles and some audio to go with the story they have created, place background information in speakers notes.

More ideas – using speech bubbles – create a dialogue between historical figures – react to peer pressure – compare science image to a student project – solve an architect’s geometry dilemma – brainstorm characters, plot, setting

Give them starter photos then if they have time allow them to find more pictures – prevents them from wasting so much time.

Create some simple templates so it is very clear what they are supposed to do and where, esp for the primary grades.

Image starters vs. textual starters – wikimedia commons – select, delete organize – categorize, compare, sequence

Other image resources:

Make sure you re-look at this page – ‘Explore Sidekicks Across the Curriculum’ – – many examples of using PowerPoint across the curriculum

Main point – you will often want to create a starting place in PowerPoint – many students are intimidated by the blank page – many waste time on non-essential activities like searching for pics or changing the font – both problems can be avoided by having some beginning place – this does not restrict more advanced students, they can still go beyond what has been provided in the starter.

Use guidebooks – try allows you to search for info about animals in your zip code.

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NECC – Powerful Learning Practice

Posted by MrsVance on July 1, 2008

NECC – Powerful Learning Practice: Creating Online Communities for Professional Development
by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Challenging time to figure out the best ways to do things for ourselves and for our students. – What does it mean to be a networked learner. When she needed to decide how to distribute the things that she collected she asked her readers.

New technologies are being driven by our kids -they are pushing them to the limit. Analogy – bus careening widely down the road – kids in front driving – adults in the back of the bus – how do we get from the back of the bus to at least sitting next to the kids driving so we can at least give advice etc.

Here Comes Everybody
Clay Shirky

Schools should have as a goal that students will be able to (SWBAT) learn personal learning networks. Easy to create and use the tools. What is hard is understanding what happens after you create the blog/wiki/podcast.

The power of these tools is not in learning to use the tools – but support a longer term immersion in the tools.

What is community – any group working toward a common goal – safe, learning, neighbors, interaction – mutual accountability – common interests, impact may be positive or negative. wikipedia

Much of the learning on the internet is self-motivated – so how do we encourage teachers to be motivated, to have the courage to reach out.

Emergent Design Model (need to get a copy of this)

Trying to get away from the models of teachers being behind 4 walls in isolation

Characteristics of a healthy community (need to get a copy of this)

Pilot in Alabama – 20 schools – teams of 5 – could meet f2f, synchronously and asynchronously – designed to draw in lurkers. – in business week – dept of education became involved.

What is the scaling framework that allows you to take a small initiative and transfer it – scale it.

Begin w/ 2 f2f workshops
Webinars – might use Elluminate
Virtual learning community
Local, job embedded groups
End w/ f2f meeting to celebrate and announce success.

Seek schools willing to invest time in exploring the challenge of 21st century learning
Include some experts – fellows
Each school should identify small team to participate.
Goal of scaling-up in each school.

At the beginning of the project have teachers identify where they are on the developmental continuum from ‘Know Nothing’ to ‘Know Everything’

100 – 120 people ideal to make a real difference.

What about the parents – must get buy-in – can create a ‘lite’ version that is for the parents.

handouts will be on NECC site

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NECC – Seeing Is Learning

Posted by MrsVance on July 1, 2008

NECC – Seeing Is Learning: Integrate Digital Pictures and Sound into Lessons
by Cheryl McInnis and Kent McInnis

Materials will be on NECC website later today.

Free, Reliable Resources:
EBSCO and SIRS Discoverer
Library of Congress

Flip video – has an hour of recording time – USB port flips out – software included on the device
HD TV stick from pinnacle- can be plugged into an antennae or cable – can use computer as a TV – can record

Useful websites – free music – help in fixing home video quality – weekly tech news – file conversion

Power Point Slides can be saved as JPG files – then can import these into PhotoStory or Movie Maker.

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NECC – What Effective Computer-Using Teachers Know

Posted by MrsVance on July 1, 2008

NECC – What Effective Computer-Using Teachers Know about Teaching: An International Perspective
by Geoff Powell, Peter Skillen and Gary Stager

GS – idea of being able to use computers to do know and learn things that we could not do know and learn before.

GS – Some teachers are simply not effective teachers.

More info at

GP – Good teachers scare kids sometimes – ie – not afraid to do things – not just technology – media making the culture of fear more pervasive

examples of good work –

PS – YMCA started HS – Authenticity – Students and teachers as co-investigators – modeling – zone pf proximal development – socio-constructivist – google Earth project – Peace on Earth Project – zoom to a place, for instance Bejing – Artwork, music, video and commentary inserted into placemark related to art from China – another example – Italy – info about baroque music as related to performing inner peace. – This was very authentic for this group, YMCA focuses on peace.

GS – teachers should be qualified to work in summer camp – these folks know how to be w/ children – value what it is that children are about.

GP – Power of location – we will pay obscene amounts of money to be in a certain locations – relation to classrooms – rows – laptops and wireless networks expand the location options – when you do wireless don’t forget outside – if students are in an odd spot they will email him to let him know where they are located – While we are debating how much access our kids have to technology many places do not even have enough books – OLPC!!! – no matter where you are you do the best you can, don’t get depressed or distracted by what you do not have.

PS – challenge to get kids to do better research – challenge kids to come up with a driving question that is ‘fat’ rather than ‘skinny’ – had kids make a blog around a driving question – took several iterations to develop good driving question

GS – Good at craft and theory / art and science – most educational problems have been around for a long time and have been solved already

GP – Great teachers love kids – moderate your behavior according to cultural norms

PS – Harm Reduction – take kids who have issues, diction issues, tardiness issues etc. – take these kids into a counseling situation until they slowly begin to change – non-judgmental, not threatening

GS – expertise made transparent to the students – thinking out loud

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NECC – Creating Live TV

Posted by MrsVance on June 30, 2008

NECC – Creating Live TV for the Classroom for Global Audiences
by Will Richardson

UStream is one option
Poll/CoHost/Twitter tabs
Vids can be saved and posted to YouTube etc. accessed from UStream
Channels can be password protected.
Somewhat more advanced interface – handles multiple channels well
Can create a storyboard libraries
Has PRO version that is even more advanced.
Vids can be saved and posted to YouTube etc. accessed from UStream

David Jakes – How some schools are using these products

  1. How does the technology extend the learning experience.
  2. MST portal Wendy Smith – class investigating stream ecology – presenting findings on UStream
  3. Class presenting science projects (9th grade?)
  4. Interview of kids and how they are using technology – chat room – took questions from ‘audience’
  5. Digital Citizenship talk for students – multi-state
  6. Professional Development
  7. Interaction between teachers and parents
  8. students writing a play and then perform and broadcast

Ewan McIntosh – why streaming instead of record and upload

  1. asynchronous – lots of control – can take time to care about what final product looks like
  2. But takes lots of time
  3. Can have unscripted discussions with people
  4. Can build sense of ‘other-ness’ – Change balance of what news is viewed and consumed – for selves and students
  5. Can get people talking about issues that matter

Steve Dembo- what is the state of the technology – brand new – mobile live streaming from cell phones

  1. Some websites let you do the same kinds of things via mobile
  2. – PC only – can be kind of clunky
  3. – also allows you to save and embed – sends out an automatic tweet – can send to mogulus – a little choppier and delayed than cometnow

Can project certain parts of the screen on the channel – CamTwist and Split Cam

Technorati Tags:

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NECC – Digital Storytelling

Posted by MrsVance on June 30, 2008

NECC – Digital Storytelling with Minimal Clicks: Improving Reading and Writing Skills
by Wesley Fryer, Vicki Allen and Karen Montgomery

(my comments in parenthesis)

People have been telling stories since the caves – when we link storytelling with pictures and songs it increases memory.

Website for session

Many teachers – fear how many clicks it takes to do a project (I have a teacher who always tells me- You know Kim, this is sure a lot of steps…)

Five Visual Images to tell a story…

  1. Came from the idea of wanting to do something with Flickr
  2. Flickr group “Tell a Story with 5 Photos for Educators”
  3. Could be in another service or product

Live in media-centric society

Voice Thread – all stories are private by default. – allows for comment moderation

Need to use these tools in our own lives.

Another good example of storytelling Celebrate Oklahoma – also can help skeptics to appreciate technology use.

Tips & Tricks for PD
How to get colleagues excited/ready to do this
Have a voice thread set up – have a script – ask teachers to come up one at a time to make a comment.
When aksing teachers take pictures to use – as an opening activity ask them to take 1 serious pic and one silly pic – then have them print out and use as name tent. Gets technical problems with the cameras out of the way before the session really starts.
Have them sign up for service before the session.
If you can collaborate with other sites – might engender some competition and will beef up content.

M/B do a private voice thread as a gift for mother, father, grandparents.

(From the description of this session I was expecting more about how to actually use Voice Thread – not so much time spent on creating the argument for why it is important.)

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