Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NECC 2007

I had intended to blog about every session I attended, but I got pushed out of one session on Monday because it was full. Someone there said to plan on only going to every other session and going and getting in line for the next session. Wow! You can tell this little South Dakota girl doesn't get out enough!

I did get to go see Process Writing for the MySpace Generation. I already knew that we need to change the way we are teaching, but this takes it to that level! It was put on by the folks at Teaching Matters and I know I am going to be spending some time checking out their website when I get home. They are very reality-based and that is what matters to my kids!

Then I wandered into the Exhibit Hall! Talk about sensory overload. I spent 1 1/2 hours in there and didn't make it half way across the room. Yahoo is getting ready to pilot some new stuff for teachers. I signed up, but who knows if they are taking everyone. I met a wonderful lady who designed her own writing program, but I was surprised that she knew nothing about blogs, wikis, or other online tools. I know I am far from being an expert, but I did realize that I know more than the average teacher as to the Web 2.0 and the environment our kids need to be learning in. Towards the end of my visit to the Exhibit Hall I found Google. Since I am convinced that Google is taking over the world, I popped in. Fun for me...I found I do everything they were showcasing (and many things they weren't) except for the custom search engine. (I popped back in there today to do the Scavenger Hunt and found that it is fun and easy.)

Yesterday was a bad day. I woke up with a terrible headache, went back to bed for a while, then got up and got ready for the afternoon. I made it as far as waiting for the bus, only to have to run back and get sick. I missed the whole day. I can't tell you how bummed I am about that! Thank heavens there are so many people that have blogged about NECC. I have my reading cut out for me for the next week!

Today I feel better and started my day with Digital Game-based Learning in American History. I stopped at their booth on Monday. The are the Colonial Williamsburg group. I can't wait to dig deeper into this. I know our state pays for us to see all the broadcasts, but I really need to sign up for the teacher materials. There are many games and sites for students to interact at. I just need to remember there will be a lot more in my curriculum than just the Revolutionary War!

The second session of the day I went back in to see Will Richardson. I know, I know...a case of hero worship, but I get really inspired listening to him. His wiki for today was at

I know I now need to add Wikinomics to my summer reading list. I don't know that I learned any more than I have from seeing him two other times and from reading his book, but I am more prepared to go back to the classroom and fight the fight to have my kids using these tools and really preparing them for the world THEY are going to live in verses the one we grew up in. I know that blogging isn't where all teachers agree we need to be, but I am going to have my kids there doing their thing and showing teachers it not only CAN but SHOULD be done. While I agree with Will that we shouldn't be keeping our kids TOO protected, I do know I am going to have to take little steps. I am very confident that I can get the district to not squawk if I start with Class Blogmeister. Sometimes baby steps are better than no steps at all. I am going to set up my own wiki and put all the assignments and resources for my kids there. I have more to learn before I am up to podcasting, but would like to find a way to use that before the end of the school year. Perhaps my US History class could do their own podcast about the Revolutionary War? Hmm, something to think about!

I wanted to go to the Hands-On Wikis in the Classroom session, but again it was full. (Guess I would have had to skip Will!) I did go see Creating to Learn: Integrating Technology into your Classroom, Grades 5-12. I was almost on overload by then. Jacqueline Keane has put a lot of work into this and, thankfully, she sent me out with a book and folder packed with information. (More summer reading!)

Since I didn't think I could handle any more sessions, I went back to the Exhibit hall. (As if that wouldn't push me over the edge!) I finally saw the back half. I don't feel like I did it justice though! I have a backpack full of information. I found a great deal on thumb drives. I hope I can convince my wonderful principal that she needs to purchase one for every teacher. Maybe if I keep putting technology into teachers' hands, they will get excited! I saw things that make me want to drool and also realized how lucky we are in South Dakota. Most teachers aren't given web space around here. We all have it available. WebCT available to every teacher? They laughed at me. Promethian Boards starting to come into all the classrooms. I had teachers asking where was it I was from. Okay, we may be on the low end of the pay scale, but it is no wonder South Dakota scored an A- on the technology report card. (Only behind Georgia's A.)

There is only one keynote left for me today and the conference is over. It was a fluke that I got to come this year. I guess I am going to have to really start the campaign so I can be in San Antonio next year!

NECC Session 1 ~ Will Richardson

The first NECC session I attended was Will Richardson's

Learning with Blogs: Bringing the Read/Write Web into the Classroom
I have heard Will speak at the TIE conference in Rapid City. Now that I have started my own blog and am planning to use them in my English class, it seems to be a whole new conversation. I will record some of what I heard:

Will's Wiki
Will's Blog

Will had been a 21 year educator. Quit to become a full-time blogger and speaker. Will has been blogging for six years.

Google Blog Search

To start blogging you need to read blogs. The links above are great places to start to find blogs that interest you. You then need to start commenting on other blogs. Engaging is a very important piece. At that point you may feel comfortable to start your own blog. There are many places you can start your own blogs. I have a couple started, but I am not sure where I want to "live."

Blogs are reflective. You can use it as a journal, but the real power is to put your thinking and opinions in there and see what people think. You put in intellectual sweat.There is a lot of synthesis in blogs. There is a lot of hypertext. Kids will be working in linked environments.

The question was posed to Will asking the difference between a blog and a wiki: A blog is a conversation. A wiki is a collection. What is the difference between blogs and forums? Blogs are deeply personal. They are your space. Forums are not. They are a group of people.

Reading blogs is an important part of being a blogger and a few that Will talked about were:
Clarence Fisher's blog
Konrad Glogowski
Karl Fisch

Teacher modeling works best when teaching blogging. Here are a couple more:

Vickie Davis - Cool Cat Teacher
Bud Hunt

IM is a very effective language and we should be teaching students that as well as formal language. We need to tell them when it is appropriate.

There are many places you can set up blogs. Here are a few:

I have a blog. I read blogs and occasionally comment in other's blogs. I am not yet to a point that I consider myself a blogger. I am getting there though. I really want my 8th graders to publish their writing to a blog this year and comment on one another's blogs. I HAVE to be a good role model, so my summer is cut out for me. I am so excited!

I always enjoy Will's presentations and hope to catch a few more!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hitch a Ride to NECC

A site called Hitchhikr allows you to hitch a ride to many conferences via the blogosphere. On the main page you will find listings to popular conferences. If you click on NECC 2007 you will find a listing of blog posts by people who are at NECC and who are tagging their blogs in a certain way.

Podcasting from NECC

Apple is sponsoring podcasts of key sessions at NECC (National Educational Computing Conference). Check out this page for a list of sessions scheduled for podcasting. The easiest way to listen to a podcast is to download iTunes on your computer. Once you've completed the download select podcasts, select the education category, if you don't see a listing of NECC podcasts perform a search for NECC using the "search iTunes Store" window.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

ISTE New Student National Education Tech Standards (NETS)

ISTE is releasing this week the new version of the student technology standards.

ISTE | National Educational Technology Standards

In 2006, ISTE began work on the next generation of NETS for Students, which focuses more on skills and expertise and less on tools. Specifically, they address

* creativity and innovation;
* communication and collaboration;
* research and information fluency;
* critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making;
* digital citizenship; and
* technology operations and concepts

. . .

After a year-long effort to gather feedback and rewrite student standards and accompanying documents, we are eager to release the new ISTE NETS•S™ at NECC 2007 in Atlanta.

View the next generation of NETS•S (Word doc, 52K)

National Educational Technology Standards for Students: The Next Generation PDF

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

This generation of students

Some have suggested that our (educators') generation is one of information explorers; students of today are a generation of editors. Not only must they find the information but they must do more with discerning good information from weak information and produce quality content. One blogger brings some interesting insight to that notion.

Are We Just Editors Now?
I think, however, that simply calling the current school-age generation a "generation of editors" is a little too limiting. It's true that today's kids don't have to hunt down kernels of information as if they're ancient Cro-Magnon scrounging for roots and berries. Instead, it seems to be replacing those hunting-and-gathering skills with the ability to synthesize and combine information in ways that my own Baby Boomer mind can't always grasp.

It's also creating a generation of skeptical kids who can better sort out bad information from good information. In the old days—the 1980s—finding what seemed like a relevant piece of information was like digging up gold. But sometimes it was fool's gold, and it was often difficult to tell what information was good and what wasn't. We had to rely on editors and peer review to uncover bad information. Even then, bad information would propagate, and would often take years to correct.

One minor example of this is the statue of David, sculpted by Michaelangelo. Art history books had long noted that the statue was a little over 14 feet tall, and this was accepted as fact. But while working on the Digital Michaelangelo Project, researchers discovered that the statue was actually 17 feet.

These days, we get upset when network news doesn't correct factual errors in real time.

I think also think that the baby boomers tend to view information as simply words, pictures and diagrams. My older daughter regards information as something that's mutable, and that flows, not as something fixed and chiseled in stone. We see that on the Internet, too, as people experiment with mashups of different media, with information (data) mixing freely with algorithms to create different ways of looking at the world. One example of this is the work that Imran Haque, the Stanford graduate student who won my old PC in our recent essay contest, is doing by mashing up Google Earth with US Census data.

Editors, synthesizers, and creators. That's the new generation. They'll no longer have hunt and gather for precious bits of information. Instead, they'll be able to build something new and—we can hope—better.

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