24 Learning: September 2006

24 Learning

Thursday, September 28, 2006

k12 Online Conference

Having just finished one conference I'm feeling a bit jaded but this one does look exciting. The K12 Online conference may be the first of this sort of event in the world??? I'm not sure about that but it certainly is the first I have seen with people of this quality speaking to whoever wants to log in. If you would like an overview and an introduction to the presenters there is an interview worth listening to at this link. Some of the key note presenters are top notch people with ideas that just blow you away. You can't go past this event for FREE professional development.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ulearn Day 2

Two stand out speakers for me today. Adam Lefstein spoke about the problem of dialogue. He talked about the fact that almost all classroom conversation is Initiation Response Evaluation and how questions can really limit the dialogue that takes place. I was intrigued by his comments about the increase in dialogue when teachers stop asking questions and start making statements and allowing time for students to respond. He asserted that there is a power relationship established just in the question asking process. Mmmmm? Food for thought. He didn't discuss student questioning and how this might alter the power relationship in the classroom. And as I reflect on this more I wonder whether the IRE dialogue process is as bad as he made out. Much of our general conversation could also be categorized in this way. If it is one sided and the initiation is always from the same person then I can see a problem but conversation is often a series of initiations by one person followed by a response and then the initiator evaluating the response. If this process is one sided then it certainly would be limiting. It would become an interrogation. But surely conversation involves both parties involved as initiators and responders? The point I took from Adam was that in classrooms this is not often the case. Most of the time teachers initiate and evaluate and students do not get given opportunities to engage more fully in the dialogue process. Partly this is because of the pressure of content delivery and curriculum coverage. It will be interesting to see whether the curriculum revamp in NZ will change teachers practice with its focus on essential skills and less of a focus on achievement objectives.

New Zealand has experienced a wave of "sharing learning intentions" in the last few years. I wonder whether this contributes to the IRE mindset because teachers are thinking about their purpose for the lesson. They aren't really listening to children because they are thinking about the delivery of the lesson objective. Involving children in identifying the lesson objectives and designing rubrics for identifying success criteria can help this process.

He also made the point that we view the world through a frame or perspective that is defined by our experiences, age, gender, race, nationality etc. The way we break out of this perspective is through dialogue. Other people helping us to see the world through their perspective. Adam gave a hint into his world view with the statement... "The ultimate truth will always elude us." Ahhh Philosophers always looking for another answer to 1+1=2.

Adam also pointed out the tensions that exist in a dialogue. The tension between listening and speaking, between agreement and difference, between faith and suspicion.

The second stand out for the day was Tony Ryan. His presentation titled "How to change the world", was compelling stuff reminding me about why I came into teaching in the first place. He reminded teachers that we need to be caring and compassionate people with a positive outlook. People with a solutions mindset rather than a problem mindset. He said that one thing our current generation of teenagers need is hope. He made an interesting point about the after effect of September 11 and the reduction in suicide rate in Australia. He was making the point that sometimes when times are hard people respond by getting stuck in and making a change. They rise to the challenge as it were. He talked about the difference that one person can make and gave some examples including Ryan's Well, a boy who as a 6 year old decided to do something about water shortages for villages in Africa. His challenge to teachers was to engage students in authentic learning opportunites that build hope and allow children to believe that they really can change the world. Wow! Who wouldn't get engaged in learning if that was the viewpoint being expressed in the classroom every day.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More on Alice

I wrote awhile ago about Alice a 3D animation program. I have been hunting for a program that will create 3D objects that can be imported into Alice. This would enable me to create my own figures and then animate them in Alice.

Alice needs .ASE files and I haven't found any free 3D software that will allow me to save into .ASE format. If anyone does know of any please let me know.

In the mean time I have found a bit of a work around. I have used a piece of software called Caligari Truespace. I've only just found this and haven't worked out how to use it yet other than to create a really basic sphere and colour it. I exported the 3D model from Truespace as a .asc file then opened that file in Biturn
and converted it in Biturn to a .ase file. Alice would then let me import that model and I could then Instruct the model to move. This is all a bit of a complicated work around and so far I haven't found Truespace to be very easy to use. I'm looking for something intuitive that children will find relatively easy to use. Alice is brilliant. I used it with some year 6's the other day and they just latched on to it so easily. I have found a very easy 3D modelling program called CB Model Pro which is very easy to use but so far I haven't been able to work out how to convert the models into .ase format so I can import into Alice.

If any readers know of a solution to all of this I'd love to hear from you.

I think the story telling potential for this sort of software is really cool and I'd love to see an international project along the lines of Rock our world.
I'm going to attempt this on a small scale with the schools in my cluster next term so I'll let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I was reminded about this site today and went back in for a browse. The site is aimed at preschool and kindergarten children although there is much on there that would be of interest to NE Year 1/2 children. The site is much expanded from when I visited a year or so ago and is well worth a visit if you have littlies. I only had a quick squiz this evening but there were some really cool music making tools and games and some great stories.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Simple Explanation of Podcasting

Walter McKenzie's Innovative Teaching

I came across this site today which is just a wonderful list of really top notch web resources for educators. If you are like me and relatively new to using the web in teaching and learning then this link is a gold mine of great stuff. Well worth a quick browse and then bookmarking on your del.icio.us page.

Grant Wiggins

I first came across Grant Wiggins while at university and his article "The futility of trying to teach everything of importance" impressed on me the need for a different view of curriculum. Today I stumbled across this website and was really impressed with it. I copied a whole section of his four beliefs that inform his mission. In New Zealand I think the second point of education being local is taken care of by our self governing schools and the curriculum focus on key competencies. The other three points are just so stunningly important that it is worth pausing to reflect on how well we do them. I think his point about feedback is the most critically important factor in improving teaching and learning. In my own job I get some chance to provided feedback to teachers by invitation. I don't think that our schools have a feedback culture though. I believe that principals have a significant role here in developing a school culture that includes teachers specifically observing and providing feedback to one another. Why is it that teachers feel so threatened by this? I know that I used to feel this way. Maybe in part it is because to some measure we are putting on a "show" in class and that can be ebarrassing to be observed doing. The only lesson I ever had video taped while I was at teacher's college was a PE lesson. My associate teacher was filming me taking the lesson interspersed with shots of one of the children crawling in the bushes beside the swimming pool!!! I wonder if I would have benefitted more from having a maths lesson or reading leson videoed. And what about experienced teachers? Wouldn't it be marvellous to film a really expert teacher in action and then sit around and talk about what they were doing well and why. I think the power of the net is only just starting to be realised for sharing these sorts of experiences.

Here it is from Grant Wiggins...

Excellence in schooling requires a vigilant focus on learning - and, specifically, learning for understanding.

"Cover, test, and hope for the best" is an all-too-common reality in schools. In the best organizations, by contrast, people constantly think through important issues, aim for thoughtful and fluent understanding of the big ideas, and focus on core complex and worthy performances. Thus, excellence in schooling requires that teaching make big ideas come alive, that new understandings be "uncovered" and developed, and that transfer become the focus of all teaching of "content." Superficial coverage, teaching to the test, and assessments that ask only for recall or rote plugging in these are the approaches of educators who lack purpose or who have been allowed to lose their way. Ironically, their main defense that state tests demand such approaches is not grounded in "best practice" research on learning. Opening up possibilities, not closing off thought, should be the point of school, for the adults as well as for students.

All education is local.
There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching, learning, assessment, or school keeping. Learners, educators, and school contexts differ happily so. Playing to individual passions, talents, and styles is the way all effective organizations grow. Our mantra for schooling has always been: Standards, not standardization. Authentic Education succeeds in its mission to the extent that we honor the idiosyncratic talents and interests of our clients, while maintaining a clear view of our common obligations and goals.

Schooling needs to be grounded in more authentic forms of learning.
Students are both motivated and challenged by genuine intellectual purposes and performances, and schooling should focus clearly and unwaveringly on them. Alas, educators are too often distracted by the "audit" nature of high-stakes tests. They then end up reversing cause and effect: they spend all year worrying about the audit instead of meeting clear, powerful, worthy local goals not unlike the patient who practices all year for the doctor's physical instead of worrying daily about health and fitness. This is more than a belief: the research makes clear that the best schools have high standards higher standards than state standards and effective policies for upholding them.

Education succeeds if and only if everyone in schools gets constant and powerful feedback, and is obligated to seek it and consider it.
Planning is vital, but educators at all levels individuals in the classroom and the leadership team of the district make the mistake of ignoring the crucial role of self-assessment and self-adjustment based on feedback. Feedback takes many forms: student work, parent comments, state test scores, supervisory observations, peer review. It is understood at a common-sense level to be vital to any performance success. Yet, educators are remarkably averse to seeking out and using feedback when it comes to the classroom (as opposed to the band shell or the playing field). Feedback and its thoughtful consideration must become central to teaching, learning and school keeping. No syllabus or unit plan is ever adequate: intelligent, effective, and on-going adjustment against clearly identified standards is the only way to meet educational goals.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ok. Here's a serious (and very good) example.

Youtube could get to be addictive!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Online Conference

This looks great and I will certainly be participating. Check it out! This is posted again for those of you who don't click on links. Here is all the gory detail.

Announcing the first annual "K12 Online 2006" convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year's conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme "Unleashing the Potential." A call for proposals is below.

There will be four "conference strands"-- two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday - Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two-weeks. Each presentation will be given in podcast or screencast format and released via the conference blog (URL: TBA) and archived for posterity.


Week 1
Strand A: A Week In The Classroom
These presentations will focus on the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes. They will also show how teachers plan for using these tools in the delivery of their curricular objectives.

Strand B: Basic/Advanced Training (one of each per day)
Basic training is "how to" information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers.
Advanced training is for teachers who have already started using Web 2.0 tools in their classes and are looking for: (a) advanced technology training (eg. how to write your own blog template or hack existing ones), (b) new tools they can make use of in their classes, (c) teaching ideas on how to mash tools together to create "something new," (d) a pedagogical understanding of how technologies such as Weblogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking sites, RSS feeds and others can deepen learning and increase student achievement, or (e) use of assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of Read/Write Web technologies in their personal practice and with their students.

Week 2
Strand A: Personal Professional Development
Tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs); how to create opportunities to bring these technologies to the larger school community; how to effectively incorporate the tools into your personal or professional practice; or how to create a supportive, reflective virtual professional community around school-based goals.

Strand B: Overcoming Obstacles
Tips, ideas and resources on how to deal with issues like: lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, and other IT concerns while trying to focus on best practice in the use of Web 2.0 tools.

For organization purposes, each strand is overseen by a conference convener who will assist and coordinate presenters in their strand. The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who has distinguished his/herself and is knowledgeable in the context of each topic. This year's conveners and keynote presenters are:

A Week In The Classroom
Convener: Darren Kuropatwa
Keynote: Bud Hunt

Bud Hunt teaches high school language arts and journalism at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado. He is a teacher-consultant with and the Tech Liaison for the Colorado State University Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, a group working to improve the teaching of writing in schools via regular and meaningful professional development. Bud is also the co-editor of the New Voices column of English Journal, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English. A consumer of copious amounts of New Media, Bud blogs and podcasts about his practice and larger educational issues at http://www.budtheteacher.com.

Basic/Advanced Training
Convener: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
Keynote: TBA

Personal Professional Development
Convener: Will Richardson
Keynote: Ewan McIntosh

Ewan McIntosh is an educational technologist and teacher of French and German. Based in the Edinburgh area of Scotland he frequently works around the UK and Europe, leading student and teacher workshops and conferences. He is an experienced workshop facilitator in the area of Web 2.0 technologies in education across stages and curricular areas. Ewan blogs at http://edu.blogs.com

Overcoming Obstacles
Convener: TBA
Keynote: Anne Davis

Anne is known for seeing the educational possibilities in the use of weblogs with students in classrooms, having implemented wonderful ideas and weblog projects with students and teachers in K-12 classrooms and at the university level. She currently works at Georgia State University in the Instructional Technology Center in the College of Education as an Information Systems Training Specialist. Her weblog, EduBlog Insights
is a co-winner of the Best Teacher Blog in the second international Edublog Awards, a web based event that recognizes the many diverse and imaginative ways in which weblogs are being used within education.

We'd like to invite you to submit a proposal to present at the conference. If you have something you'd like to share with the community, both people who are new to blogs and/or experienced bloggers please email the appropriate conference convener above with your ideas. The deadline to submit a proposal (just the proposal, not the finished product) is September 30, 2006. One of us will contact you to finalize the date of your presentation. Your presentation may be delivered in any web-based medium (including but not limited to...podcasts, PowerPoint files, blogs, websites, wikis, screencasts, etc.) and must be emailed to your assigned conference convener one week before it goes live, (see above strands) so that it can be uploaded to the server.

The conference organizers are:
Darren Kuropatwa

Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is known internationally for his ability to weave the use of online social tools meaningfully and concretely into his pedagogical practice and for "child safe" blogging practices. He has more than 20 years experience in both formal and informal education and 13 years experience in team building and leadership training. Darren has been facilitating workshops for educators in groups of 4 to 300 for the last 10 years. Darren's professional blog is called A Difference (http://adifference.blogspot.com).

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach

Sheryl is a technology/education consultant for the National Education Association (NEA), the Center for Teaching Quality, SRI International, the Virginia Community College System, the Virginia Department of Education, the Miami-Dade Public Schools, the Alabama Best Practices Center and adjunct instructor in the School of Education at The College of William and Mary. She has had several journal articles and book chapters published, been featured on public broadcasting television and radio shows, and is a regular presenter at local, state, and national conferences speaking on topics of homelessness, teacher leadership, virtual community building, and 21st Century learning initiatives. Sheryl blogs at 21st Century Collaborative (http://21stcenturylearning.typepad.com/blog/).

Will Richardson

Will Richardson is known internationally for his work with educators and students to understand and implement instructional technologies and, more specifically, the tools of the Read/Write Web into their schools, classrooms and communities. A public school educator for 22 years, WillÂ’s own Weblog (Weblogg-ed.com) is a primary resource for the creation and implementation of Weblog technologies on the K-12 level and is a leading voice for school reform in the context of the fundamental changes these new technologies are bringing to all aspects of life. Will is the critically acclaimed authour of the best-selling book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Tools for Classrooms (March 2006, Corwin Press).

Conference Tags: k12online, K12online06

If you have any questions about any part of this, email one of us:
Darren Kuropatwa
Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach
Will Richardson

Please duplicate this post and distribute it far and wide across the blogosphere. Feel free to republish it on your own blog (actually, we'd really like people to do that ;-) ) or link back to this post (published simultaneously on all our blogs).

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Roal Dahl Day

Here is one for all you Roal Dahl fans. September 13th has been designated Roal Dahl Day. This web site has all sorts of resources and activities for children. There are suggestions for teachers about how to make it a fun day for your children.

Thanks Greg for this link. This is an upcoming online Web2.0 conference. I will keep an eye on this one. Web 2.0 really does give us the power to collaborate in ways not previously available. To be able to interact in such a powerful way online with (potentially) some of the great minds and practitioners in teaching is very exciting. I hope a few will come! :-)