Mrs. Vance Goes To School

Learning and Teaching with Technology

Archive for June, 2007

Day Four – Morning

Posted by MrsVance on June 28, 2007

Sometime on Tuesday I drifted into total overload. I was not able to process anything more and I shifted into recording mode. It is now Thursday, NECC is over and I have had time to sleep, go walking and think. I woke up during the night several times with new thoughts and ideas bubbling around. But before I go there, I want to finish documenting what I remember about the specific workshops and sessions.

Engaging Staff & Students Using Web 2.0 Tools for Collaboration by Susan Brooks-Young – Tuesday 8:30 – 11:30
Susan has not forgotten what it means to be an educator. Her workshop was well planned and she did not try to cover too much. There was a nice mix of lecture and hands-on activities.

My Notes
The Silent Epidemic report by Civic Enterprises (2006) Report on the problem of students dropping out of school. Unique in that they asked the students for their opinion of why they dropped out. Found widespread disengagement, and apathy. They felt they would have liked more discipline and academic rigor.

What is Web 2.0 – transition of the WWW from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users.

Tools used in workshop – Graffiti Boards, Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Zoho Show.

When teaching to others (teachers or students) make sure you have sample documents created.

When working in DOCS agree upon some conventions – using a specific color for comments etc.

ZOHO show – a little clunky – recommend creating in power point and uploading into ZOHO

Look at Think Free on own time – most sophisticated of the online Office things –

Look at Susan’s site for a Wiki space about Free tools for educators.

The real power of Susan’s workshop is that she practiced what we have all been preaching all week… collaborative learning, authentic experiences etc. She put us in groups and we edited a document and spreadsheet together. But we did not know who was in our group. So when editing the document we had to somehow communicate who we were to our fellow group members. To use the graffiti boards we sat with a group and wrote on the graffiti boards while other groups edited at the same time.

I will definitely do more with docs and spreadsheets after this workshop. Not sure about the other tools. I am not sure the graffiti board is quite ready for prime time.

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Day Three at NECC 2007

Posted by MrsVance on June 26, 2007

I am have had some difficulty with both wordpress and my internet connection. So, this was written on Monday but I am just now getting it posted.

Another Great Day!

I began the morning with a Lecture – Using Tech to Differentiate by Interest in the Upper Elementary Classroom by Grace Smith and Stephanie Throne. The notes for this class, or at least the links are supposed to be posted at the website Everything DI . But so far it is not there.

Even though Grace and Stephanie emphasized that teachers need to start slow and should not attempt to differentiate for every student every day, I left the seminar feeling vaguely uneasy. Here is yet another thing that I need to put in place during the coming year. We need to have an easy(ier) way to do this. As I wandered through the Exhibit Hall I found myself at the Blackboard booth. Hmm… is this the way to pull it all together? One of the features of Blackboard is the ability to create conditional assignments. Based on an assessment that is administered and graded within the Blackboard system the student would be directed to an enrichment activity or a remedial activity. The real-world classroom activities would be for all students. So no one is left out or excluded. And once the module is created it can be used over and over again. Some questions… does Moodle have similar conditional assignment capabilities? Can content be shared in Blackboard? Is anyone creating content for either system or do the teachers need to create it themselves?

Next I was supposed to go to a BYOL session. But when I got there it was at capacity and no one else was allowed in the room. On the one hand this was a really big bummer. On the other hand, WOW! There are a bunch of us – we will make a difference! And with my better attitude I set out to find another session. What I found was the Hands-On Open Source Lab and the session, Computer Programming for Everybody: Teaching Programming with Python by Vernon Cedar. I taught a short unit on programming for my middle school students last year. Some loved it and some hated it. I had not decided if I should do it again this year or not. After listening to Vernon I have decided to give it another try this year. He suggests projects that are more exciting. His students use the Turtle and LiveWires add-ins for Python to draw shapes and animate objects. Question – does Ruby have similar libraries or would I need to switch to Python?

Finally, in the afternoon I went to Westminster for License to Thrill: Using Top Secret Technology Strategies to Learn by Jeff Giddens and Daniel Rivera. We took a wirlwind tour of the Gimp,, Picassa, Audacity, and Google SketchUp. Jeff and Daniel have wonderful instructions on how to do very interesting things using these product at the Tie Network. They also have some information about marketing and how to use this information to motivate our students.

Using Movie Maker they created a spectacular ‘movie trailer’ for the book 1984! They said they might post it and hopefully they will. Please watch it if you get a chance. You will be inspired! Better yet, have your students watch it and then have them make something similar about a book of their choice. I really could have spent the entire day with Jeff and Daniel.

I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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Afternoon and Evening Day Two

Posted by MrsVance on June 25, 2007

Advanced Blogging, or Dealing with Sidebar Envy – Sunday 6/24/07 8:30 – 3:30.

This workshop was very good. We began with Chris Lehman and Marcie Hull from the Philadelphia
Science Leadership Academy
discussing how they are using Web 2.0 tools to transform education. This part of the class alone was worth the price of admission. I promised myself I was not going to re-think my conference schedule anymore, but I really need to hear more about what they are doing in Philly. After Chris and Marcie got everyone excited about what they are doing with Web 2.0, David Warlick gave us a plethora of information about and practice in actually using a wiki, a blog, social bookmarks, podcasting tools and more. Look at the wiki and click on ‘Session Wiki Notes’ to see the notes that each participant recorded. Unfortunately, wikispaces hiccuped in the afternoon and some of the notes may be incomplete.

In the afternoon Andrew Zolli gave the keynote speech. He was very entertaining and interesting. He did not really said anything new. Nor do most people here at the conference need to be convinced that we need to change how we do school. But it is always good to be re-energized by someone who gets it.

At this point the evening went downhill. After walking to the Aquarium for the reception with thousands of my closest friends we stood in the heat and humidity for over an hour and a half because the Aquarium had reached its maximum capacity. Once in, it was way too packed. It was difficult to move around and nearly impossible to appreciate the exhibits. And there was little food left. Even as many people were just entering the Aquarium buffet tables were being cleared and removed. This part of the conference was a big disappointment.

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Second Day at NECC

Posted by MrsVance on June 24, 2007

It is Sunday June 24 at 10:55 am. I am sitting in a class called Advanced Blogging or Dealing with Sidebar Envy and have been instructed to ‘blog’. Being always a good student, I am complying. The problem is I never know what to say. I have tried blogging before and never went more than a day or two for this very reason.

Earlier this morning Chris Lehman was a guest speaker for the class and said something that I think may help me to have better success this time. He said that blogging is reflecting. And if we do not have time to reflect we are doing too much.

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