Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2008 TIES Exceptional Educators

Congratulations to Dean Dahl, 6th grade Reading teacher at South View and Jon Zetah, 3rd grade teacher at Cornelia on being named the 2008 Edina TIES Exceptional Educators for technology integration!

TIES 2008: The Perfect Storm: Emerging Technologies with Tim Wilson

Osseo, Minnesota Technology Director Tim Wilson spoke at TIES to a packed house on emerging technologies.

He began by reminding us about exponential growth. It grows slowly at first, but then takes off. Sometimes we don't understand what's happening until it's too late!

In 1965 Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, said that "the number of circuits on a computer chip will double every two years."

In 10 years, we've gone from the pentium chip to the Atom chip, which is the size of a grain of rice!

In 1998 there were 8 million transistors on a chip. Now there are 820 million! If we are teaching math standards, understanding Exponential growth should be one of them!

So what do the next 10 years hold? If Moore's law holds true, the chips of 2018 will have 25,600 million transistors!!! If this is true, all of the ways that technology has changed in the last 10 years will be infinitesmal compared to what's happening. The computing power of the iMac of 1998 has the same power of the iPhone today! What will this mean for education?

Ray Kurzweil quote-

People tend to overestimate what can be achieved in the short term, but underestimate the long term. Similar what Daniel Pink says in "A Whole New Mind"

The Perfect Storm is this:

Ubiquitous Internet + Powerful Mobile Devices

Ubiquitous Internet

  • Wifi

  • 3G

  • WiMAX-Blanket of Internet access to a large area, including rural areas (Not here yet)

Powerful Devices

  • Acer Apc

  • HP Netbook-$349 today (A stocking stuffer for some of the parents!)

  • Blackbery

  • Nokia

Resistance (You could replace work with school)

1994-e-Mail has no place at work

1996-Internet Access has no place at work

2002-IM has no place at work

2005-Social Software has no place at work.

Intel is currently looking at using Facebook!

Products coming along

I-Tech Virtual Laser Keyboard-Projects a laser keyboard on a table and you can type on the table!

Heads Up Display-Teleprompter that you wear!

Virtual Retina Display-Beamed write on the retina (With "Little Lasers")

Contact lens with display built in

He used PollEverywhere and had the first 50 people who texted to him to answer the question of what policy best matched our district cell phone policy.

23% said no way no how

56% Don't let us see them

21% possible learning tool

Should schools get out of the buisiness of providing the technology and become providers of the content?


Online Learning-Right now, we still don't know how to use it! In Minnesota, we pit districts against each other for funding. The completion rates are horrible right now. Over 50% don't complete the course. But if we don't limit ourselves to the technology we have now, and focus on the engagement possibilities with video connection, will it matter where you are?

What if you used a virtual display, but all your classmates were there too in a syncronous session?

Purchasing and Supply of Equipment-Right now, many kids say that they'll just work on it at home. In many cases now, the connection at home is faster, and they're using their own equipment. Within 2-3 years with Cloud computing and distributed computing, we won't be installing software on computers, with a thumb drive at school.

In Osseo, he forsees that they will never have more computers in their inventory than they have now. Companies are giving staff stipends to purchase their own computer. He gave props to Edina with opening up the High School to students. Everyone will learn from our mistakes!!

Access to all the information does not make you smart in the 21st Century. Standardized testing needs to catch up!!

The question came up regarding equity, and how can a district insist that students bring the technology if they have 60% free and reduced lunch.

Tim suggested that districts maybe need to be a provider of Internet service with wifi outside the school day into neighborhoods.

How do we deal with minors on Web 2.0 Tools. Tim said we should run the tools internally. Even Facebook! On Moodle you can make courses public, and you could make other applications accessible on a case by case basis to allow for authentic learning opportunities.

Someone asked about using used cell phones and a text only plan for:

a)Keeping them out of landfills

b)Allowing them to be used in education

Monday, December 8, 2008

TIES 2008 Explore the World of Molecules on Your Computer

Penny Springer, chemistry instructor at Prior Lake High School demonstrated Atomsmith software for "classroom molecular exploration." Penny and I taught about 6 years ago at McGuire Middle School in Lakeville.

She gave an overview of the software, by starting with a gas lab model. The software has a model window on the left, and experiments, instructions, and formative worksheets on the right. The worksheets add a level of accountablility that she likes.

In the simulations, you can adjust gas type, model type, preasure, temperature and size of the space the molecules. She ran a simulation with water, and you could see the hydrogen bonds form as the temperature decreased.

She currently teaches general chemistry, and with the software she is able to help the students visualize molecular structure and modify it quickley to teach specific points. She pointed to research that showed

"students learn and retain more through the use of text, and
pictures/annimations, especiallywhen words and visuals are presented simultaneously" e-SchoolNews, March 26, 2008
Her favorite is the Lewis Structure Lab". The software in her words is "dummy proof" so that as they add data, if it it is too small or too big, the color changes to let the student know that they need to adjust their data. Using trial and error, students can get the right structure with electrons and bonds that would have been very dificult to understand just out of a textbook.

Here are the key takeaways, benefits for her students:

  • Can use as a lecture tool

  • Visual

  • Interactive

  • Enjoyable

  • Deeper Understanding

  • Using tools they are comfortable with

  • More one on one student/teacher time

  • Lectures are more effective/visual

  • Saves Teaching Time

  • Students are actively involved in the lectures

  • Gives the "why" right up front

  • Live at the molecular scale!

  • Reflective journaling

Assignment options:

9th grade: Students are assigned 4 elements and asked for comparison/contrast information.

Gas laws are now on the ACT test, so this gives students a visual.

This software is course specific, but provides a tool for teachers that can have a strong impact on acheivement!

TIES 2008: TICL presentation

Teachers who spent the last year learning about Tech Integration through TIES shared some of the methods of integration that they worked with the last year. Teachers in Bloomington, Northfield, Hinkley and St. Michael collaborated on this project.

-Garageband, Audacity, mixcraft
-a way to record
-place to host (TIES Urban Planet has this capability)
-gabcast.com, gcast.com-use our phone to create (Can’t re-edit and add sound tracks)

Access to new technology-Student Engagement!
New way to present
Authentic audience

Learningathand.com, willowweb are examples of sites that have good ideas.

  • Making connections
  • Collaboration
  • Sharing
  • Used Google Docs to share and collaborate with a classroom in Alaska.
  • They also used Google Documents to collaborate on their presentation.


They recommended Wikispaces.com and PBwiki.com for wikis.

JING Project

Jing allows you to capture images, record video, and share. I have used that on this wiki here.

VoicethreadThey showed examples of student comments on Voicethread based on one image, country of origin project where kids completed a collage project and students commented on the top 6 examples, and an example in math where students take turns showing how to solve an equation and a professional development voicethread regarding teaching online.

Several staff in Edina have used Voicethread.com for different projects. Here's my first as an example

This collaborative project focused primarily on how they would take what they learned back to their classrooms. I wonder if a project between districts exploring a similar initiative would prove to be valuable?

TIES 2008: Today's Evens, Tomorrow's Odds

Keith Rysoski, Superintendent of Stillwater Area Public schools talked in his session about "Thinking out of the Box".
Teachers need to facilitate the learning, but we put them into a box that makes it difficult.
If we want them to think outside of the box, we need to get them out of the box.

He used a video of an amoeba to illustrate that students are constantly learning and changing. We should be asking kids questions like:
Why is it moving, why does it change, what if we shown a light on it or dropped saltwater on it? Instead, we ask them to draw and label the parts, then assess them and are satisfied.
He asks buisiness leaders what skills students will need to have to be successful in 2021, the year this year's Kindergarteners will graduate?
What is technology- He brought out a microscope to illustrate that technology appears in many different ways. Just look at the phones kids have today!
He said that if you want to start a one to one program, just to have a one to one program, don't do it.
Look at what are the skill sets that kids will need to be successful, besides reading, writing and math.
Look at the 21st Century Skills. Just because creativity is not on a state test, that doesn't mean we should ignore it. What are we doing to prepare kids to be better tomorrow than they are today.
He used the 1989 San Francisco earthquake to illustrate the many authentic learning opportunities he was unable to introduce to his students because each student didn't have a laptop.

1. At the HEART of what makes the Oakland program successful.
Belief in NOT the technology-Kids, opportunities, access to information, creative expression. "I am successfull and I didn't learn that way!"
Passion there will be people against you! Because it's what's right.
Determination only successful if you are determined

2. The HEAD component is:
Role Playing If you were comfortable in the old paradigm (desks in rows, sage on the stage, etc.), teachers need to facilitate learning, not dictate learning! Teacher: "I had to remember I was the (Insert discipline here) and they were the technology expert" Where are the students in the classroom
Professional Development-After 6 years, teachers going to conferences need to talk with others who teach the way you do. Make connections to allow this conversation about instruction. THE KEY!

Cell phones out on the desk using them as student response systems.

3. HANDS component
Rule Book-How do you make sure they won't do something that their not supposed to? Expectations! If you think they won't follow,they won't! Stillwater meeting Parent-"You can't give these to the kids, they'll throw them out the bus window!" Student-"These same people who don't trust me with technology are the same ones who call me to babysit!"
Roll Out/Roll In plan He would prefer the roll in didn't happen, but allowed for more extended learning
All Hands on Deck-Minimize down time. Have a plan in place.
Lids Up/Open- Teachers decide when kids will be using them. NOT all the time. Don't be afraid to say, "Lids down!"

He showed a series of pictures of students using their laptops in class and pointed out that this was not a computer class, it was integrated in regular classes.

One to One Learning Initiative, not Laptop initiative!!!!!
He encourages people interested in starting this initiative, to begin, and end with Professional Development-This is not Technology professional development-It's tied to the curriculum!

Pink shifts to the right

Hey everyone Claude Sigmund here. Long time reader, first time poster for Mikes Blog....

I really love Pink. His book is sort of window into the world and what we need to do to teach towards it.

Remember the video "Shift Happens" Pink takes that video and talks about the concepts contained within that video. The economic, social and human consequeses that we face on a daily basis.

He helps us understand that creativity is not just art. That decisionmaking and problemsolving is a kind of creativity. Science is creative... but not how it is presented or often taught. How do we change the standard way of thought. How do we teach for our future... not for the present?

A book worth reading and a conversation worth having.


TIES 2008: Teaching with Tablets

The first breakout session I attended was on Teaching with Tablet PC's, by Tami Brass from the St. Paul Academy and Summit School.

The Toshiba M700 is what they use for staff and students. The school has been using tablets w/teachers for 4 years. They use carts for grade 6, piloting for students at grade 7, and at grade 8 and up have traditional PC's.

She used "One Note" to ink on the screen. It is part of the Office 2007 suite, or for roughly $15 per machine individually.

The reasons for tablets:
  • A Whiteboard in your briefcase
  • Inking Office and printable documents
  • Reduce printing and paper use.
  • Take advantage of specialized applications and features.
She demonstrated presentations, music, flash cards with "Ink Flashcards", Scratch, Sketch-Up, Art Rage for science projects, Snip for screen capture, and Inspiration.

With all staff and students on tablets, they have been able to go paperless, and by using One Note, they stay organized and don't lose homework. The kids create notebooks on the server, and a cached copy stays on the computer. Teachers and students can then sync at school and teachers can see student work. Things like assignment sheets, Class Notes, Practice, Handouts and Homework reside in the class notebook. Students ink in the notebook and teachers can color code in red to mark the papers.

With student's handwriting on the tablet, they have noticed that kids are more careful with their writing. Using the stylus, you can highlight sections of the notebook and link.

You can also create your own "handwriting fonts". Research says that kids get more out of lessons from teachers if it's handwritten.

On her conference wiki, you can view more resources for different curricular areas.

She did mention that she used to work at Cincinatti Country Day School, where they had a one to one program with tablets for kids k-12.

She finished by demonstrating the new tablet coming out in January based on the Intel Classmate, it will have a built in Webcam and video input/output. They will retail below $500, depending on the opporating system. Equus Computer Systems is Intel's partner in this venture.

Daniel Pink Keynote at TIES 2008

Daniel Pink was the keynote speaker at this years TIES Technology Conference. Creative Minds Collaborating for a Web 3.0 World is the title of this year's conference. I had heard Pink speak at the University of Minnesota last spring in a conversational setting, and was interested to hear a more direct message and whether he had any new things to share.
He started by talking about "What makes a Good Speech?"

  • Brevity

  • Levity

  • Repetition!

He said the repitition comes from a teacher he had 30 years ago, Mrs. Path, who said, "Repetition is an effective form of emphasis!" She told him over, and over and over!

His focus today was on education and the economy. While not an educational expert, he said that his ability to focus on systems gives him .
The purpose of education in America is not to deliver employees to buisiness, it's about helping kids reach their potential, civic responsibility, and well informed citizens.
We must win that argument if we want to do well by our kids.
We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.-Similar to John Dewey in the 1930's and 1940's.
He then discussed some of the concepts from his book, "A Whole New Mind."
He talked about growing up in the late part of the 20th century in the middle class, where if you were good at math, you went into medicine or engineering, if you were good at language arts, you became a lawyer.
This does not define our kids future.
This is not wishful thinking, it's actually that the scales are tilting toward the following:

  • Asia-Outsourcing of jobs that used to be done in the United States. Pink says that the number of white collar jobs outsourced, is actually much less than people think, but it is understated in the long run. India has a BILLION people! Even if only 15% of the population reaches a economic level similar to ours, that's 150 million people, greater than the population of Japan and the number of workers in our economy. In 14 months, India will be the largest English speaking country. The cost of communication is effectively 0, given things like Skype. ROUTINE is the fault line between our past and our kids future. Any job that is routine, will be leaving our economy very quickly. If you can write down the steps and get a right answer, those jobs will be gone! Accounting, financial analysis, computer programming, certain types of law, are all professions that are routine and will be quickly outsourced.

  • Automation-Automation is replacing our logical, sequential rule placed side. You can now easily look at all the steps of what a lawyer in Minnesota needs to do to help someone get an uncontested divorce. So you can spend $2,000 to see a lawyer, or go to CompleteCase.com and have it done for you for $249! He showed some other sites, like 123divorceme.com and 3stepdivorce.com and Turbotax as examples of how certain tasks are automated.

  • Abundance-The standard of living among middle class Americans is at an all time high. The broad trend is toward greater abundance, despite our current downturn. He showed a chart that demonstrates the spread of consumption. The self service storage industry is now bigger than the movie industry. The iPod is a great example of how even in a downturn, companies can introduce things that everyone will need! (Introduced 6 weeks after 9/11) Companies will retrench and move forward

The big questions that need to be answered today are:

Can someone oversees do it cheaper, can computers do it faster, is what you're delivering in demand in an age of abundance.
What about STEM? This is not a brief against STEM, just a critical analysis of how STEM has been done in the past by having kids spit back results.
Google is trying to hire "Non-Routine Savants". Medical Schools are now using art to teach decision making. Extrordinary observation skills are required to become a good painter, and a good doctor! Yet the first thing to go in elementary and secondary schools is art education!

Here's the problem:
Economy Current Focus

  • Novelty

  • Nuance

  • Customization

Education Current Focus

  • Routines

  • Right Answers

  • Standardization

The 6 Abilities that Matter Most Right Now-They are hard to outsource and hard to automate, and they make us human!

  • Design-Not just Function

  • Story-Not just Argument

  • Empathy-Not just Logic

  • Play-Not just Seriousness

  • Meaning-not just Accumulation

  • Symphony-Not just Focus

He is making his presentation available, and suggested that people to Tweet him!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Syncronicity Regarding the Future of Learning: Are you a Sherpa or a Jazz Musician?

Yesterday, Sara Swenson, Edina High School Librarian (She prefers that term!) shared the following video with me via e-mail that she found on an NCTE Web site.

I thought that the video crystallized for me the potential for educational technology integration, 21st Century learning and learning beyond the classroom walls. It is something we are working on with our Community of Practice. That isn't to say that there won't be road blocks to navigate, or crevasses to traverse! We know they exist now! I was intrigued to see the teacher's role defined in such creative ways!! When people ask you what you do for a living, do you respond as "teacher", "educator", "instructor", facilitator", or are you a "Connected Learning Incubator" or are you still "Keeper of All Knowledge Which Is Good?" Hmmm...

Then this morning, I checked my Twitter feed and Will Richardson had posted about a conference on the Future of Education he attended at Microsoft.
I saw a strong connection between his post and the video, and commented on the blog. When I read the post over again, this quote certainly sounded familiar:
As would be expected, much of the conversation was spent on the barriers to change, and at some point I found myself amazed at how deeply woven the reasons why not are ingrained in our conversations. At one conversation, someone said that many of her teachers didn’t feel like they needed to teach with technology at all since their students were doing just fine passing the tests without it. And I wanted to scream (but instead politely said) ‘then we gotta change the assessments.” Nothing in these conversations changed my view that to really change what we do in schools we have to first change our understanding of what it means to teach in this moment. That doesn’t mean than we throw out all of the good pedagogy that we’ve developed over the years and make everything about technology. But it does mean, I think, that technology has to be a part of the way we do our learning business these days.
I remember in my interview for my current job stating that "a pencil is technology, and if a task is done more efficiently with a pencil than a computer, then use the pencil! "(Of course we don't have a class in pencil either, that's why we need to integrate!!) However, if by having a student blog about a poem, allows them to have an authentic interaction with the poet he/she is writing about, then perhaps the pedagogy should change.

I arrived at work, and there was an update from our local teacher's union with this quote from Education Minnesota Edina President Van Anderson:
We do not know from day to day, or even hour by hour, what we will encounter among our students. Of course, we get to know them (and data can help us do so), and that knowledge helps us plan suitable lessons, but sometimes even the best laid plans veer from the path we thought our students might be able to follow. Then we, like good jazz musicians, improvise.
Later, again in my Twitter Feed, was a post by Dean Shareski , a Digital Learning Consultant from Moose Jaw, SK responding to Richardson with the following quote:
My own experience with meeting people at conferences and having great conversations outside of the formal sessions reaffirm that face to face is good and necessary and in many ways real reason and value of a physical place where people gather. I believe it was Kevin Honeycutt who said, “it was the first time I’d met someone’s brain before I met their face”. Being together is really what my class is about. But the richness of conversations and willingness to be open and transparent is difficult to foster in 3 hours a week where much of that learning is teacher directed. I think the model developed by Jonathon Bergmann and Aaron Samms is one we’ll likely see more of in the future. Coming to school to do homework and learning with others.
I had actually attended a Webinar presented by Jonathon and Aaron, and blogged about it here. Their model is one that I see having great potential in a one to one learning environment. I believe the ability for students to connect beyond the walls of the classroom with experts, expert content, and each other will allow for richer learning opportunities in the classroom.

These connections don't have to happen virtually, either.
Last week I was in AP Environmental Science teacher Eric Burfeind's classroom while he had guest lecturer, Phil Miller from the Conservation Breeding Specialists Group using computer modeling software to look at animal populations.

As I have been making and sharing these connections this morning, I hope I am modeling what it would look like for a connected student as well. I've talked before about having a Personal Learning Network, and Sara, Will, Dean, Jonathan, Aaron, and Eric certainly are members, (whether they know it or not!) and so are you! Join me as we climb the "Mount Everest" that is the future of education, I'll be the Sherpa carrying a few tools (rope, ladder, oxygen, wireless laptop) to help along the way!

What are your thoughts? Are you ready to be a Concierge, or a Sherpa, or a Jazz Musician?
What would training for such roles look like? I look forward to your comments!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

30 days to Being a Better Blogger

I have been reading Discovery Educator Steve Dembo's "Teach42" blog for the past year and following his updates on Twitter. He is a former kindergarten teacher turned "passionate" education technology advocate and I consider him to be part of my "personal learning network!" Last month, he set out on an ambitious project titled "30 Days to Being a Better Blogger".

The idea originated last year with Darren Rouse at Problogger.com, but was not necessarily focused on educational blogging. Dembo's project was geared for educators, and I am going through the steps on this blog to show it's potential. He has added a wiki page here, and encourages educators to sign up for the challenge. While the idea was to do everything in November, the site will remain up and can be done at any time.

I have gone through the list of 30 tips (You'll note many changes have occured on this site!) and have included below some that I think would be good to share with students as blogging assignments. The links will take you to Steve's site where you can view more details about the task.

  • Day 3: Write a thank you note Students could write a note to a teacher or classmate, whose post or comment they appreciated.
  • Day 4: Own your CContent This is a great opportunity to talk to kids about copyright and fair use. What if someone took their intellectual property and used it for commercial purposes? This task has them add a Creative Commons License to their blog.

  • Day 5: Globalize Your Blog In this task, students add a Clustermaps widget to their blog to track where visitors are coming from. As you can see by the one in the upper right hand corner, this site has seen traffic from China, UK, Australia, India, Canada and several locations in the US since I posted it last month.
  • Day 8: Comment unto others Dembo remarks here that "sometimes the best way to improve your own blogging is to read and comment on others." This gives an opportunity for students to reflect on others writing, and thereby improve their own. As another member of my PLN, Dean Shareski says, "You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. This should apply with blogging as well." On a personal note, since starting this post yesterday, I've made at least 4 comments on other blogs I've read in preparation!

  • Day 19: Who do you love… and why? This might be a nice activity for your students to explore other's blogs and share what they like about them. It would give them practice linking to other sites and seeing what others are writing, what voice their writing in, and ideas on how they can make their own site better.

  • Day 25: Add a quick 1000 words to your posts This post explores adding images to your blog. Steve gives great examples of how to incorporate screenshots, logos, mashups and photos (Not by using Google Image search!)

  • Day 26: Tag, you’re it. Learn how to incorporate tags on your posts. Last year, by tagging I made a connection with Clay Burell, at the time an educator at an American School in Seoul, South Korea. Clay is one of the best bloggers/writers around, and I may not have made the connection were it not for a tag.

  • Day 28: Link It Up One of the ways that blogging is different from traditional writing is the ability to add links to the text you are writing about. If you refer to a news story, blog, or Web site, LINK TO IT!! This would be a good way for students to make their site more conversational and interactive.

I hope this gives you some ideas for working with students on their blogging. Next Tuesday, I'll be presenting at the 2008 TIES Technology Conference on "The Blogging Cycle". I'll be updating the conference wiki with resources (Including this one) in the coming days. If you give these a try, be sure to let me know how it went!!