Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blended Learning Pilot Reflections

Edina High School English teacher, Kathleen West has been piloting Blended Learning in her Enriched English 10 Course.
On Wednesday, she discussed her experience and shared her own reflections along with the reflections of her sophomore students.

West described how she transformed her curriculum to fit the format. Students were required to attend class on Mondays and half of Wednesdays. Tuesday, she held optional sessions, and then student small groups were required to attend either Thursday or Friday. If the student grade fell below 70%, the student was required to attend daily until it went above that. West's students and her colleague, Jackie Roehl reported that they did much more writing in the blended class, compared with those who took the course face-to-face.

She used Moodle as the digital learning space, and integrated other activities such as podcasting, wikis, and our Google Apps for Education tools. She did a marvelous job building community both in her physical classroom as well as the digital environment. West likened the workload to " being a first year teacher, or having a new prep, new job" since she's building the online component from scratch. Were she teaching the course again next year, that workload might be different.

Students knew that their input was critical to success, and were very willing to share what their experience was like. I'll let their words speak for themselves!

Kudos to Kathleen AND her students for demonstrating how blended learning can work, and their willingness to share and reflect on it!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Professional Development in the 21st Century

Today in our district, staff were asked to submit proposals for their professional development next year. We are entering the 4th year of using the Communities of Practice model.
Meeting in August, November and April, teams of 4+ teachers will use the process of social learning to answer an important question and apply it to their classroom/professional practice, enhance leadership through collaboration, use data to impact instruction with the goal of measurably impacting student success.

Yesterday via Twitter, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice, asked this question of her PLN:

Many people responded, and I aggregated those responses into the Wordle below.
I was happy to see that many of the phrases and words mentioned match what we are trying to do in our district. Empowering, self-constructed, collaborative, connective, job-embedded, using data all match what we are doing. Still, I'm left with some tough questions.
Does our plan appear to be ubiquitous, blended and truly on-going? If we somehow built in time each month or added an online component would we be more effective? What could we take off the teacher "plate" to make that happen? Is the school year calendar a "sacred cow" that gets in the way of some of this happening? Would teachers in my district agree with this list? How can the different communities of practice best share what they have learned with one another?

Do these phrases match the professional development you are seeing in your school or district? Do these terms describe your own vision of professional development?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Zooburst: 3D Pop-Up Books in Augmented Reality

Zooburst is a new tool that allows you to create 3D pop up books w/ Augmented Reality. They are currently limiting sign up, but have put up some examples of what people can do with it. I think it has some interesting "Digital Storytelling" possibilities! See the example below. To view in WebCam mode, first print this page, then click on Webcam Mode and "Allow". Hold the paper up to the Webcam to see the Augmented Reality version.

On the Web site, there is an FAQ that explains how it works and how to sign up to give it a try. If I get an account, I'll post a story. But don't tell Steve Jobs! It's based on Flash! ;-)

Updated: Within an hour, my account was activated, and I created this sample. It was very easy to use, and as they add more clipart for creating stories, will be a great way to tell a story!

If you're in screen mode, you can right click to zoom in and out, and you can also click and drag the book to rotate around and view from different sides.

What story are you going to create?!