24 Learning: May 2007

24 Learning

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fun to play with

Try this one just for fun.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Slooh is a rather cool looking tool for looking at the stars. If you have anyone in your class interested in astronomy this one may get them excited.

Unfortunately for me the visibility was not good when I logged on but I will definitely go back and have a look at this one.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

K12 Conference

Announcing the second annual "K12 Online" conference 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, October 15-19 and October 22-26 of 2007, and will include a preconference keynote during the week of October 8. This years conference theme is "Playing with Boundaries." 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 any of a variety of downloadable, web based formats and released via the conference blog (www.k12onlineconference.org) and archived for posterity.

Week 1
Strand A: Classroom 2.0

Leveraging the power of free online tools in an open, collaborative and transparent atmosphere characterises teaching and learning in the 21st century. Teachers and students are contributing to the growing global knowledge commons by publishing their work online. By sharing all stages of their learning students are beginning to appreciate the value of life long learning that inheres in work that is in "perpetual beta." This strand will explore how teachers and students are playing with the boundaries between instructors, learners and classrooms. Presentations will also explore the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes.

Strand B: New Tools
Focusing on free tools, what are the "nuts and bolts" of using specific new social media and collaborative tools for learning? This strand includes two parts. Basic training is "how to" information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers. Advanced training is for teachers interested in new tools for learning, looking for advanced technology training, seeking ideas for mashing tools together, and interested in web 2.0 assessment tools. As educators and students of all ages push the boundaries of learning, what are the specific steps for using new tools most effectively? Where "Classroom 2.0" presentations will focus on instructional uses and examples of web 2.0 tool use, "New Tools" presentations should focus on "nuts and bolts" instructions for using tools. Five "basic" and five "advanced" presentations will be included in this strand.

Week 2
Strand A: Professional Learning Networks

Research says that professional development is most effective when it aims to create professional learning communities — places where teachers learn and work together. Using Web 2.0 tools educators can network with others around the globe extending traditional boundaries of ongoing, learner centered professional development and support. Presentations in this strand will include tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; concrete examples of how the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs) are being used; how to create a supportive, reflective virtual learning community around school-based goals, and trends toward teacher directed personal learning environments.

Strand B: Obstacles to Opportunities
Boundaries formalized by education in the “industrial age” shouldn’t hinder educators as they seek to reform and transform their classroom practice. Playing with boundaries in the areas of copyright, digital discipline and ethics (e.g. cyberbullying), collaborating globally (e.g. cultural differences, synchronous communication), resistance to change (e.g. administration, teachers, students), school culture (e.g. high stakes testing), time (e.g. in curriculum, teacher day), lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, control (e.g. teacher control of student behavior/learning), solutions for IT collaboration and more -- unearthing opportunities from the obstacles rooted in those boundaries -- is the focus of presentations in this strand.

This call encourages all, experienced and novice, to submit proposals to present at this conference via this link. Take this opportunity to share your successes, strategies, and tips in “playing with boundaries” in one of the four strands as described above.

Deadline for proposal submissions is June 18, 2007. You will be contacted no later than June 30, 2007 regarding your status.

Presentations may be delivered in any web-based medium that is downloadable (including but not limited to podcasts, screencasts, slide shows) and is due one week prior to the date it is published.

Please note that all presentations will be licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

As you draft your proposal, you may wish to consider the presentation topics listed below which were suggested in the comments on the K-12 Online Conference Blog:

  • » special needs education
  • » Creative Commons
  • » Second Life
  • » podcasting
  • » iPods
  • » video games in education
  • » specific ideas, tips, mini lessons centered on pedagogical use of web 2.0 tools
  • » overcoming institutional inertia and resistance
  • » aligning Web 2.0 and other projects to national standards
  • » getting your message across
  • » how web 2.0 can assist those with disabilities
  • » ePortfolios
  • » classroom 2.0 activities at the elementary level
  • » creating video for TeacherTube and YouTube
  • » google docs
  • » teacher/peer collaboration

The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who is distinguished and knowledgeable in the context of their strand. Keynoters will be announced shortly.

This year's conveners are:

Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel 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). He will convene Classroom 2.0.

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, a 20-year educator, has been a classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, and digital learning consultant. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching graduate and undergraduate preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where she is also completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. In addition, Sheryl is co-leading a statewide 21st Century Skills initiative in the state of Alabama, funded by a major grant from the Microsoft Partners in Learning program. Sheryl blogs at (http://21stcenturylearning.typepad.com/blog/). She will convene Preconference Discussions and Personal Learning Networks.

Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change agent. With respect to school change, he describes himself as a "catalyst for creative educational engagement." His blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” was selected as the 2006 “Best Learning Theory Blog” by eSchoolnews and Discovery Education. He is the Director of Education Advocacy (PK-20) for AT&T in the state of Oklahoma. Wes blogs at (http://www.speedofcreativity.org). Wes will convene New Tools.

Lani Ritter Hall currently contracts as an instructional designer for online professional development for Ohio teachers and online student courses with eTech Ohio. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who served in many capacities during her 35 years as a classroom and resource teacher in Ohio and Canada. Lani blogs at (http://possibilitiesabound.blogspot.com). Lani will convene Obstacles to Opportunities.

If you have any questions about any part of this, email one of us:

  • » Darren Kuropatwa: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com
  • » Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach: snbeach {at} cox {dot} net
  • » Lani Ritter Hall: lanihall {at} alltel {dot} net
  • » Wesley Fryer: wesfryer {at} pobox {dot} com

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).

Conference Tag: K12online07

After participating in this conference last year I can highly recommend it. Brilliant experience well worth the time.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stop Disasters Game

I'm starting to get taken by online games that I can see have a genuine educative purpose. Electrocity has me captivated.

This is a new one to me. It has five different disaster scenarios and a time limit before disaster strikes. You have a budget and have to prepare the location for the coming disaster. This would fit well into any disaster unit at the upper end of primary or lower high school level.

If you can recommend any games like these two I'd love to hear from you. As always I'm a cheap skate so I want free, preferably online suggestions and they have to be educationally useful. I'm sorry but Wolfenstein just doesn't do it for me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thinking Mathematically

I was prompted by a posting on David Warlick's blog to comment about teaching mathmatics. I'll post the gist of it here.

I agree with you David that the computer has changed significantly from a ‘computing’ machine to a communication machine. Although I do think this change, for most of us, was quite a long time ago. I’m not a specialist mathematics teacher but it seems to me that what is missing in maths classes often is relevancy. The pupils need to understand why a mathematical concept is useful to them in everyday life. Just because it is going to be on the test is not a good enough answer anymore.

We have been playing with a couple of things in my maths lessons that I think are both fun and relevant. http://www.electrocity.co.nz/ is a game where the students have to build a city (a much simpler online version of sim city). Every decision they make in the game has an impact on population, environment, electricity supply, happiness and bank balance. My class have been playing the game for a couple of weeks now but I have just added the task of creating a spreadsheet to track the impact each decision has on the total score.

Another group have been using google sketchup to create 3D models of the school buildings which we will post up to google earth when finished. Lots of mathematical discussion about how to create a scale model and how to measure the height of the hall without climbing on a ladder.

I know many more teachers could add their ideas here about how they are using technology effectively in teaching mathematics.

In New Zealand we have embarked on a numeracy development project across the whole country. See http://www.nzmaths.co.nz/numeracy/Intro.aspx for an introduction. As part of this project digital learning objects http://www.nzmaths.co.nz/LearningObjects/ have been created to illustrate mathematical concepts in an interesting way.

The key thought I had in my head when I wrote my first attempt at this comment was that we need to be making maths relevant. If the children cannot grasp the purpose of learning a particular concept then we need to find other ways of presenting it until we do make it not only understandable but relevant. If I can’t answer the question “Why do I need to know this?” then I need to rethink my lesson.

Maybe we need a movie/slideshow/website/whatever competition along the lines of… “You need to know this mathematical concept because…”

That is my 10 cents worth anyway (inflation adjusted and taking into account the exchange rate and the fact that we no longer have 1, 2 or 5 cent coins in our currency I felt I couldn’t add 2cents to the debate)

In browsing the comments on Davids blog I came across this great looking site. It looks a bit like the digital learning objects at the nzmaths website.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Food for thought.

Many of you will be readers of Wesley Fryer. If you are not this post on his blog is worth reading. He is pondering the issues around high stakes testing (long may we resist this notion in New Zealand) and in the way we convey a sense of failure to our children. The post is a good reminder about the way we talk to our children and how we ascribe success and failure. I know I have mentioned it before but the TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson is also a powerful reminder of valuing children for more than their ability in reading, writing and mathematics. If you haven't looked at that one I really would encourage you to take the time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Clayanimation on Teachertube

This wee animation was made a couple of years ago but I was looking for something to upload to teachertube while I was experimenting. This was made by some year 5 pupils. They also made the soundtrack themselves using super duper music looper.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Comic Life for PC

Now this is some good news. A beta version of Comic Life is now available for PC owners. I can't get it to work properly yet but I'm sure they will sort it out. Worth a look.

Here's a new take on publishing

If any of you are in New Zealand you will no doubt be aware of the tragic death of two teenagers at a party last week. For those of you overseas the girls were run down in the street, along with several others who are still in hospital.

The reason I was prompted to write was when I opened the paper today there was a half page article of messages taken straight from the Bebo website someone set up in remembrance of the girls. This says something about the way news gathering has changed. What I did wonder was whether there were ethical issues involved here. Did the paper ask permission from the people who posted messages on the Bebo site? The other issue is that usually newspapers won't print letters from anonymous sources but in this case the postings to Bebo could have come from anywhere. I think there are issues here that need addressing.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

World Class Education

This report from the Ohio Department of Education makes interesting reading. I have only browsed the executive summary but the description of where they want to head to as a state made me stop and think for a minute. As a New Zealander I read the list including, that schools would be

• Organized around instructional leadership of principals and teachers
• Receive funding based on a weighted student formula
• Are accountable for delivery against state standards:
– Student performance
– Implementation of teacher career lattice in cooperation with unions
– Provision of student supports based on systemic diagnosis
• Have the authority and resources and state accountability
• Teachers have a variety of roles and compensation related to the contribution they make

and thought that most of this was covered currently under the present local governance model of education we have in New Zealand. I don't think we could claim to be particularly revolutionary and there are many who would certainly question any claim that we have a world class education system. I wonder how much research Ohio State have done? I must go and read the rest of the report to find out more.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The futureof magazine publishing?

Wow! Take a look at this link.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Here is a great looking game. Build a city. Make decisions about infrastructure, prospecting, environment etc etc. All sorts of things. Aimed at year 7-9 students but hey! I enjoyed having a play. Also prizes available for New Zealand schools. This could be a good one to give as homework.