Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ISTE 2010: Session: Howard Rheingold: Critical Thinking while Exploring the Web

I've seen Howard Rheingold present online, and was looking forward to seeing him live.

First we looked at Bing and the photos that they use on their opening page.
There is a Wikipedia tab whenn you search in Bing, along w/ related searches on the left. You can see the tone of the related searches as you search through something like "global warming." If you search "Global Warming," you will see "myth" or hoax, as you go further, you can see how the tone shifts in thinking on the topic.
They now have a beta Social Search in Bing as well. And "
Microsoft has a site for teachers around critical thinking here.

Finally, Howard started talking and began by sharing the resources for the session.
We used the hashtag on Twitter #istect and people also added resources on the wiki page.
This allowed for the creation of this .pdf at the end with resources created by the participants.
The resouce mining included a Diigo Group called Critical Thinking where you can join and find great resources.
Howard asked the audience if there was anything you could tell your administrator about it, what would it be? Angela Maiers was in the audience, and said, "start early, do it often, and don't underestimate young minds."
It is important to show students early where information comes from, and show them sites that have bad information.
Rheingold discussed, a site I have used many times with students to discuss critical thinking.
A site called Newstrust can be used w/ older students and has resources for educators.
Rheingold stated that Wikipedia is a marvelous educational tool precisely because it is untrustworthy, and it reveals the process. "It's the best place to start, and worst place to stop researching on a subject."
You can triangulate by doing a Bing, Google and Wikipedia search on a topic. This will give you a better start.
Teachers need to develop THEIR critical-thinking skills as much as students!
Someone in the crowd asked whether there was a wiki page on Wikipedia discussing the validity of Wikipedia? Yes, in fact there is.

Rheingold talked about the scientific method and degree of authority. We need to instead develop a process of thinking where we can defend the sources we use.

Someone made the valid point that we need to have the same critical thinking we have with books that we have with Wikipedia. We need to question EVERYTHING!
There need to be a partnership between classroom teachers and media specialists on this.
CommonSense Media has some great resources on this.

The session gave many resources in many formats that will be valuable assets on this topic.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ISTE 10: Tuesday Session: Google Wave

Tim Stack and Jared Covili from the Utah Education Network presented on how to use Google Wave as a tool and how to put it into the K-12 classroom.

Education in our generation has been force fed, and then...the info is gone.
59% of students online talk aobut educational projects
50% of students are learning online
They want choice. Today they have 150+ stations
They want control
How can Wave help some of these issues?

They created 2 waves for this presentation, one for the presentation:
And one for the comments and questions like a back channel.

Replies that people make create new "Blips" on the Wave. By Control-Clicking on the second wave in your list, you can have 2 waves open at a time, then by closing the minimize button on the search panel, you can see both Waves side by side.

Issues: when waves are public, the creator can be deleted, and people can change content. In fact about 3/4 of the way through the presentation, someone deleted the resources section of the presentation!

Next we looked at management of the Wave. Stack said that the more you use it, the easier it becomes. It's just different.

Since this is an open source project, there are some apps like that can be added to allow for things like translation from Spanish to English. You drag the app to be a participant in the wave and then you get a drop down menu when people are editing. In the wave, you add these apps as contacts to your wave.

It's still in it's infancy, so it requires extensions and gadgets to allow for waves to be Public, to embed calendars, and other extensions.

You need Google Gears installed on your browser for dragging and dropping of documents and images in a Wave. Surprisingly, Google Gears is currently not supported in Chrome!

They then showed a wave for the Utah State " Amazing Race" contest and how you can pull in .pdf documents and images. The images appeared in a preview mode similar to Google Buzz.
Any document can be added to a Wave as well.

There is also an extension that brings up a video chat with up to 6 people.

I was excited for this session, as along with many, I had tried wave back in January and was ready to get some tips and to see whether I wanted to train staff to use it this year, since it is now part of our Apps for Education package. At this point, I think I will wait.
The apps and extentions are currently only added at the user level. If you are a member of a wave created by someone who added the bot/app to the wave you can use them. Perhaps teachers could be trained in adding specific extensions and then invite their students to the wave. For sychronous creation it does have intriguing possibilities.

Monday, June 28, 2010

ISTE 2010: Session: #Tweet, #Learn, #Lead

I stopped by to listen in on Chris Craft (@crafty184), Jonathan Becker(@jonbecker) and Jeremy Brueck (@brueckj23) discuss how to use Twitter more efficiently. It was interesting to see these three educators from different parts of the country collaborate and share their perspectives on how Twitter can be used effectively. I've been trying to grow things grass roots in Edina the last couple of years, as it has greatly benefited me professionally, and I was hoping to gain some insights from this ISTE Bring Your Own Laptop session.

They actually began their session last week, by inviting those registered a Google Form Survey created by Brueck to gather background information on the participants skill level and to attend a Moodle course on Twitter providing introductory lessons and a quiz. Brueck also has this Wiki site with great resources for every level of Twitter user.

They created three hashtags which formed a backchannel for the session :
#isteask for people to ask questions during the session
#istelearn for people to share information
#istelead for people to share how administrators might use Twitter.
I thought this was clever and they had the 3 tags as columns on Tweetdeck up on the screen as they presented.

Craft began by assuming that everyone there wants to use Twitter.
  • Do you want links to resources?
  • Ideas for the classroom?
  • Conversations about topics?
Then Twitter can be an effective tool for you!

He noted some important things to remember:
  • It is entirely acceptable to unfollow someone who isn't tweeting, or isn't giving you good information.
  • It is entirely acceptable to block someone from following you. (I have had to do this when obvious spammers have started following me.)
How do you use this tool without being overwhelmed? (This is something that a few of the people I have attempted to get on Twitter have struggled with.)
American Education Research Association Conference this spring Craft presented on some of his Twitter research. After looking at 250 self-identified educators over the course of 18 months, most of their tweets were socializing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but can be noise in your stream.
If you want to use Twitter for learning, you need to carefully choose who to follow, carefully choose who not to follow, and carefully choose who to engage.
He follows around 400, as do I, though I have heard Will Richardson say that he prefers to follow only around 150 or so.

This is YOUR network. YOU need to Own it! Follow people smarter than you!
Follow people who can be leaders for you.

Jon Becker began by asking this question: "Is the faculty lounge valuable? How?"
One respondant from the audience said, "Depends on who's in there with you!"
Most aggreed that conversations about teaching and learning in the faculty lounge can improve your instruction.
Twitter is a nearly boundless faculty lounge for you.

Many school leaders don't have that space to talk with other educational leaders. Twitter gives them the ability to grow the list of people they can connect with, ask questions and learn from.

You can follow people that someone like Chris Lehmann, the principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia follows (in Lehmann's case that would be 2,247 people!) or if they have a list of administrators like Chris has, you can follow the entire list (Cutting the number to 63!). Another option is to use Tweepsearch or Listorious and search for the word principal.
Becker suggested that Pam Moran (@pammoran), David Dotty (@canynosdave), David Briten (@ColonelB), and John Carver (@johnccarver) are superintendents who are active on Twitter and worth following.

There are a set of standards that people in the field of Educatonal Leadership that school administrators need to aquire, such as the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium's (ISLLC) Standards for School Leaders. Community Engagement is one of these standards. Becker feels that there are great possibilities for using Twitter to meet this standard. The Van Meter, Iowa School District is a great example of this with the #vanmeter hashtag. It's a great way to be transparent to your community and for you to control the message.

Brueck explained hashtags as a tool to aggregate tweets. Also, Tweetgrid can give real-time search results. (Thanks, @tollsy!)

Some districts are using Yammer, a "walled garden" approach to using Twitter, which is a social network for private social network for businesses that can still be synched to your Twitter account.

Bruek then explained how he uses Tweetdeck to manage multiple Twitter accounts and other social network feeds. He showed how he created columns for

Becker mentioned a local reporter tweeting from a school board meeting. Do you want that, or should the school control the message. He reiterated that Twitter is a great way to engage the community while also controlling the message.

Brueck shared how to click on the time date stamp in Tweetdeck to bring up the individual Tweet for when you want to share a relevant tweet with others.

Becker showed how to roll over a tweet in Tweetdeck to e-mail the tweet directly to people you want to share it with.

There was great discussion of whether to have multiple accounts or to live life in the open. B
Hootsuite is a tool that can assist people with managing multiple accounts.

This session gave me some ideas to try this coming school year to help people who might be feeling overwhelmed, and a few new tool suggestions as well.

ISTE 2010: Monday Session 1: Teaching the Digital Generation: A New Face For Learning

This session featured Ian Jukes and Lee Crocket in a "drive by conversation" on Teaching the Digital Generation.
The presentation material can be found here if you sign up.

He asked us to step back from our exsisting world and get a "swift kick in our assumptions."
The powerful new technologies are affecting todays students. Most of the change that our parents and grandparents experienced were incremental. Anyone under the age of 25 the changes are more rapid and
Understanding the Digital Generation book
As parents, citizens and educators need to understand that on the inside today's kids are completely different. Not because of them physically maturing faster, their clothing styles, or what they listen to. Due to digital bombardment, primarily outside of school, their brains are adapting to these new technologies. They have developed a cultural brain.
Because of this bombard ment their brains are physically changing. They are neurologically different, and they see and interact with "hyperlinked minds" with "neuroplasticity."
They are constantly creating new thinking patterns. The eyes of digital readers process images 60,000 times faster than text.
The eyes of older brains find the "golden mean" 1/3 to the left and 1/3 down. A z curve.
Kent State research shows digital readers don't do that. They unconciously scan the bottom and sides first.
The brighter the color on the page the more they focus on the page. They read in an F pattern. They ignore the right side and bottom of the page, unless they are highly motivated to explore it.
This affects the way they view the world.

Digital learners prefer receiving info quickly from multiple media sources.
Educators prefer slow controled content from a single source.

Kids come to school and feel like they've run into a wall. We need to acknowledge as educators that the digital world is different.

National School Board Association says that by ignoring this and the tools that students use outside of school w/o first concidering the educational possibilities we are "blowing it!"
The world has changed and we need to get over it and get on with preparing them for it!

Digital learners prefer parallel processing and multitasking, most educators prefer linear processing and focus on a single task.

Continuous partial attention, multi-tasking, has been around for ever. The difference is that for the digital generation, they multi-task much faster. That's not the way WE grew up!

Dr. John Medina, author of "Brain Rules"-Research on multi-tasking, students are 40% less effective when mult-tasking. Students need to focus for extended periods of time. However, whether we like it or not, we're never going back to 1985 again.
Jukes says that unfortunately, many teachers still teach like it IS 1985!

Educators prefer text before pictures/sound/video. Kids want the opposite.
Back when we were growing up, the images were meant to compliment the text. For digital learners, they want to experience the images first, then

People can remember the content of 2500 images 72 hours after only 10 seconds exposure with 90% accuracy! If this is the case, our stand and deliver lecture model is not cutting it.

Images and video are powerful enough on their own. Do you learn more from the video or the words on the evening news? Medina says the new generation is visually fluent. They are moving more to a digital right brain world.
We were paper trained, linear logical, left to right. The new generation prefers beginning w/ visuals and then moving

Digital learners prefer random access to hyper-linked multimedia information. Many educators prefer the linear delivery method.
The constant exposure students have had has created "hyper-linked minds."
Moving from linear to multiple paths of thought is a good thing, but exposure to this makes it hard for learners to follow linear thought, because they get bored.
Kids are increasingly non-linear thinkers. Why do I have to read to the end if I can explore the links and create my own ending?!

Jukes says that both styles are ok, just different.

Digital learners prefer to network and collaborate with others. Educators prefer students to work independently before interacting.
When we were growing up there were 2 ways to communicate Face to face, and phone.
The digital world has 1000's of ways to communicate. The digital generation takes these for granted. It does not exist in isolation from the physical world. Our generation struggles to understand this!

What is the 1st thing kids do when given a new game? Pull out the instructions? NO. They mess with it. They look for cheats, they ask their friends, etc. This is fundamentally different learning.
Learning by intuition,

Digital learners prefer "just in time"
Many educators prefer "just in case!"

The idea of having a career for life is highly unusual now. Companies: If you wanted loyalty, you should have bought a dog!

Kids today will be dealing with 10-17 careers. The top 10 jobs in 2020 do not exist today. (Friedman) If we are going to prepare our kids for the world they will meet, we need to teach differently.
"No child left untested" is

What world are we preparing our kids for?

Digital learners prefer instant gratification and instant rewards. Educators prefer deferred gratification and delayed rewards.
Video developers make new games planning a new decision every 5-10 seconds and a reward every 7 seconds. On average, students get asked a question or get feedback every 25 minutes in school.

Time to reflect: Kids are different and we need to acknowledge that.

So now we know. How do we change things?
These 6 things should be in the front of ever room:

Solution Fluency:
Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, Debrief
In the real world, it's not enough to design the presentation, you need to deliver it, and then debrief! Students need to be involved in the process.

The deliver phase
Information Fluency-Every minute, 24 hours of Youtube videos are uploaded. Every minute you are a day behind. Is it more important to know or to manage the information
The 5 A's:
Students need to be able to ask, aquire (wrong info is an opportunity for learning!), analyze, apply, assess
This should be embeded in every lesson and skill.

Creativity Fluency-
$200 to get into the lobby of a Dubai hotel
Design is the key in the marketplace.
2/3 of our economy will be creative class jobs
Logical and analytical abilities can no longer guarantee success-Olivier

Media Fluency
Determine/evaluate the media
Determine the best way to communicate your message
Challenge students to communicate more effectively, not just about language!

Collaboration Fluency
Digital Diet book written by Ian, Lee and Andrew Churches all done online

All of these fluencies are done in context as a digital citizen.

Traditional Literacies 21st Century Fluencies should be balanced

Teach problems then content.

The focus is on "headware" not "hardware!"

It's not that kids are ADD or ADHD, outside the US there are very few diagnosis this way!
We don't understand that the digital generation is different, and schools are NOT designed for them!
There is not a greater "anti-brain" environment than today's school.

Jukes says there IS a place for basic skills and understandings, but traditional literacy is NOT enough!

There needs to be balance between their world and our world!
Every generation has said, "What the hell is wrong with these kids?"

This was my first time watching Jukes present. It was a fast talking, information filled talk, that had many implications for educators.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

ISTE 2010: Edubloggercon Session 5: Students Redefine School

In this session, Monika Hardy and students from Loveland, Colorado shared a new learning opportunity that they have been exploring called "Innovation Lab". Students are designing courses and modules based on their passions, and creating peer learning opportunities for others.

One student named Aimee shared how her teacher suggested setting up a Website for students to study for an AP test. Aimee asked if instead she could post it to Students 2.0 so that others around the world could benefit and prepare for the test. The teacher agreed, and

A student named, Chase shared projects he has been working on, including student led tutorials, such as translating adult language into kid/student language by posting to Youtube and Voicethread. Here is an example of a video he created.

Another student created her own audio files for students including her own "Rosetta Stone" for German, allowing students to learn the language from another student.

Morgan will be studying the abolition of slavery from a macro-economic level, connecting anti-slavery organizations with students in her school.

Much of what the teachers want to do from a networking stand point is being blocked by standardized tests in other districts, which limits availability for collaboration.

They believe that the standards should not be based on content but based on three things:

1. Access
  • High Speed Connection
  • Tool of Choice
  • Time of Day

2. Teachers in a Personal Learning Network

3. Connectivity
  • Developing a PLN for students
Austin, another student is helping facilitate learning between students and experts, based on the passions of the students. They are running it during the "Zero Hour". He commented that he would like assessment to be on what you've done or know.
To say "I got an "A", doesn't mean as much as "this is what I've done and this is how I've demonstrated my learning."

They are exploring seat time and when students are most creative. This is similar to a student in our Blended Learning Pilot who said that he did his best work at 11 p.m.!
There hope is that within the next 4 years they will have at least 10% of their students and teachers involved. The students are still required to fulfill their "day job" of regular school.

They shared "Livemocha" a site where students here are teaching students English, and in turn are learning Spanish from the students they are working with.

The approach of Innovation Lab takes personalized learning and puts it on steroids! It combines it with the passion for learning that will take these students and teachers a long way!

Hardy has created this Prezi that explains more:

ISTE 2010: Edubloggercon Session 4-Web 2.0 Smackdown!

This session after lunch gave people the opportunity to quickly share new tools. They had 2 minutes to share their idea or tool and then someone else stepped in. Many educators presented, but then the vendors showed up to start sharing their products. I struggle with this, as I would prefer to hear from educators rather than commercials. It seemed that the educators did a pretty good job of keeping to the 2 minute limit. The vendors...not so much! Surprise!

Storybird-Social Tool to create a digital book (Flash Based)
Goofram-Combines Google Search with Wolfram Alpha
QR bar codes-A way to quickly generate them for use in the school or classroom.
G-mail Labs-Lisa Thurmann shared how it can be used to enhance your G-mail experience.
Mashpedia- A real-time Multi-media Social Encyclopedia. a newspaper with a Twitter stream or a hashtag. See more cool things here!
Shareaholic-Scott McLeod shared this as a way to easily share articles and resources.
Readability-McLeod shared this tool for increasing font size quickly and easily with a bookmarklet application similar to Diigolet.
Instapaper-McLeod shared this for getting content
SMART Exchange- A great resource for Smart Board lessons, and Notebook Express a Web based stripped down SMART Notebook app that allows you to create and share SmartNotebook lessons via the Web for free!
YoLink-A free downloadable browser plug-in. Allows you to see abstracts of links on a Web page-Nice for research and 21st Century Skills!
Sweet Search-Search Engine for Students-Google based engine that searches 35,000 evaluated sites of "credible" resources. Combined with YoLink provides a nice tool. Browse the results of a search for specific terms. shortener what the shortened URL points to those with colleagues (or PLN members) who don't want to bother searching themselves!
Readitlater-When you access a link, you can add it to Readitlater and then go back to review.
For Mac users only,
  • Mark Wagoner shared Jumpcut, a tool that allows you to keep up to 40 clippings and then retrieve them in order to past how you want
  • Textexpander-Allows you to type a short phrase and it will expand it for you. Networking tool for teachers and students, includes an iPhone App. New features include URL inclusion, co-teaching, and subgroups. Might be worth looking at for creating student profile pages, or for special projects where you want the students to assume roles.
Let Them Sing It For You- A site that allows you to type in any phrase and hear it sung by famous artists, though mostly one word or syllable at a time. Here's a sample. you to search Bing and Google at the same time.
GoogleSquared-Anything with categories can be searched and a grid with results appears.
Beth Burke shared a Wordle trick by putting a ~ between each word of the sentence. Then the phrase or sentence stays together.

Steve Hargadon, our illustrious organizer very diplomatically pointed out the need to explore rules regarding vendors presenting/advertizing at the smackdown. Good learning moment for all!

ISTE 2010: Edubloggercon Session 3-Best Practice in a 1:1 Setting

Background: This year we piloted 1:1 Laptop Learning in our district. Here is an overview of our experience, and our plans for the coming year:

Our "Go Wireless" laptop pilot began during the 2008-09 school year when a team of 20 teachers were given laptops and formed a Community of Practice to study laptop learning, and how they would teach differently in a more student centered classroom where all of the students had laptop computers.. This past year, a team of teachers and 155 8th grade students had access to laptop computers to assist their learning. Through a grant, Dr. Cassie Scharber, a professor at the University of Minnesota conducted an independent evaluation of the pilot, utilizing surveys and focus groups. Dr. Scharber found:

  • The concept of 1-to-1 was favorable (teachers, students, parents).
  • Many technical/hardware/connectivity issues were encountered during the school year. These issues greatly hindered teaching and learning activities both at school and home. So much so that it is impossible to determine the extent to which the goals of the pilot were met.
  • Teachers’ collaboration with their job-alikes was negatively impacted by the laptop pilot.
  • Technology support and integration support were understaffed.
  • Students’ technical skills were reported to have grown by teachers, parents, and students themselves. Teachers felt students’ skills were overestimated at the beginning of the year. Many pilot students were missing basic computing skills (file management), which impacted curriculum.
  • Overall, students liked having laptops to use at school and at home.
  • A little over 50% of students polled used their own computers at home instead of their issued laptop

Based on this information and the lack of funds to expand the program in the present form for next year, we have developed the following plan for year 2 of the pilot.

  • We will distribute the laptops onto carts for use at both buildings.
  • The district will purchase a limited number of netbooks that may be checked out in the media center for students to use at home. This check-out will require parent permission and the signing of a damage waiver.
  • The district will increase the number of wireless access points in both middle schools
  • The district will develop an infrastructure that will allow students to bring personally owned devices to use for their learning.
  • The district will continue to train teachers to leverage anytime, anywhere learning strategies in their instruction.
  • Students who were part of this years pilot will have the ability to continue using a personal device for their learning.

We feel that this proposal will continue to assist us with meeting the goals of the 1:1 Laptop Learning Pilot:
  • Enhance personalized learning
  • Expand learning beyond the school walls
  • Develop 21st Century Skills
  • Improve student engagement
  • Maximize the district's resources of time and talent

In this session, we began by talking about the Professional Development aspect.
Some said that each building should have a tech integrationist for 1:1 to be successful.

Scott McLeod mentioned that Virginia passed a law that a district must supply a tech integration specialist for every 1000 students.

One mentioned that moving to 1:1 for them is a 5 year process.
Open classrooms, where teachers can drop by and observe has been successful in some districts.

Apple received praise on their PD for focusing not on the product, but on teaching and learning.

A collateral issue of moving to 1:1 for a media specialist is the collaboration that used to take place. This is similar to our teacher's experience with their content job-alike colleagues.

Jeff Whipple shared 3 indicators of successful 1:1
  • Computer goes home
  • Just in time tech support
  • Teacher's perception of their personal professional development and support
Sylvia Martinez commented that most often, the reason that 1:1 programs don't work is that the adults did something stupid!

Sustainability is a huge issue, as it was with us. Martinez suggested setting up peer coaching, student support, etc. before the money runs out! One option for this is the Bring Your Own option. A few hands went up when we asked how many were allowing that.

In regards to Acceptable Use Policies,many felt that they need to be less restrictive for 1:1 programs to be successful.

Martinez said the AUP should empower and include students in the process. Why can't students write the AUP or at least be a part of the process? This includes professional development!

There was discussion about the need for some student/family buy in such as insurance.

There seemed to be a consensus from the group that 1:1 learning is inevitable, whether district or student supplied. The question is when this will happen.
More notes from the session from Jim Gates here.

ISTE10: Edubloggercon Session 2: Student Blogging

Much of this session focused on policies for student blogging and people sharing their experiences.

The #comments4kids Twitter hashtag and Comments4kids wiki were mentioned as great sites for publicizing student work and inviting comments from other students or educators around the world.

Jeff Utecht shared these guidelines from the International School in Bangkok. Our Web 2.0 Code of Conduct (.pdf alert!) has some similar content, but perhaps too heavy handed in our wording? Note: #13 was actually added by our lawyers!

One participant suggested that the forms permitting student blogging should be sent out a couple of weeks after the blogs have been set up, to be able to say, "Here's this cool thing your child did. May they have permission to continue?!" Others cautioned that it was important to get permission ahead of time, especially if the audience was public. This led Steven Anderson to wonder out loud over where permission should stop. Do we need parents to grant permission to simply teach?

On the topic of assessment of student blogs, some in the crowd felt that it wasn't necessary and in-fact detrimental to grade every post. The use of aggregators such as Google Reader or Netvibes was suggested to manage student blogs. I suggested outsourcing assessment as demonstrated here by Christian Long. Others suggested that peer review can be successful. Utecht commented that if we grade EVERYTHING, it becomes an assignment, not an individual reflection. Then it becomes to "schooly!" Someone else pointed out that if AP students are assigned a blog post and it isn't graded, they will resist it and push back.

Utecht shared a .pdf he has created for setting up blogs as electronic portfolios.

By allowing students to keep the blog as their own, it can be used as a portfolio for others to see what they are about as a learner.

Wouldn't it be great if a district gave a student their own domain name as a graduation gift?!
Dean Shareski has just received a grant to do just that in his district.

Jim Gates, the moderator has more notes here.

ISTE 2010: Edubloggercon Session 1-Crap Detection in Student Research

Today I traveled to Denver for the International Society for Technology in Education Conference.
I grabbed an early flight so that I could attend the 4th Annual "Edubloggercon" an impromptu un-conference of "educational technology geeks" like me, who love learning and conversation. People were invited to submit ideas for conference topics, such as "Crap Detection and Student Research", "Cognitive Science and Education" and "Students Redefine School."

I began the morning in conversation around "Crap Detection and Student Research." The term "Crap Detection" was coined by Howard Rheingold, who feels that it is a 21st Century Literacy. He has set up a wiki on critical thinking for study of this issue.
Angela Maiers commented that students today struggle with first defining the purpose of their research. They often search only by the topic rather than breaking it down to figure out what they want to find out.
Next, identifying keywords is often dificult for them. Another commented that Google does not present itself as a user friendly tool for elementary students. Media specialists are needed to help students make sense of what they are looking for, and model strategies. Michelle Baldwin suggested giving students age appropriate sites before hand and having them rank which are good resources and which are not.

We used to have worksheets to help evaluate Web sites, but now with self-publishing, a grey area has developed surrounding the validity of information despite the fact that some blogs and wikis have more accurate/up-to-date information than traditional media.

David Warlick commented that students need to care about the research that they are doing, and see the purpose.

Maiers said that people looking at material should be asking 3 questions:
  1. What is being said?
  2. Who is sharing the message?
  3. Why is it worthy of my attention, does it fit my purpose?
She feels that these questions should be developed in students in kindergarten and first grade.

One of the concerns brought up by the group is that critical thinking is not being focussed on in classrooms concerned with making "Adequate Yearly Progress" on standardized tests.

Warlick: "Teachers need to say, "according to this source, they say this" on a daily basis. Sources of Authority such as textbooks are often not accurate, and teachers need to point this out!

Some in the room were concerned that teachers don't have time to do this. Maiers pushed back, and said that simply by changing the wording to, "According to this author, Pluto is no longer a planet because.... Can you find another author who might disagree." By simply adding this phrase, you can introduce critical thinking, engage students at a higher level, and still meet the standards. Others suggested simply adding "Why?" to the script can move students in this direction. Maiers added:
"Great readers ALWAYS read w/the writer in mind & great writers ALWAYS write with/the reader in mind! Do we model that? "

Teaching research should also involve giving students experiences where they are immersed in investigation.

Joyce Valenza suggested "Mashpedia" as a starting place for research. She's from the Philadelphia Area, and said they have banned "reports" from her district! We expect the research to go across the content areas, they evaluate the students citations, and maintain rigor.

We finished the session with a 2 minute turn to your partner on what we had learned. Great start to the conference!

Friday, June 11, 2010

9th Grade Service Learning Projects

1) Why do you care about this issue?
2) What is the root cause/underlying problem?
3) Research your issue. Find 2 good articles to inform you on this topic. Write a 1 page description of how the information from these articles impact how you would interact with this issue. Use specific quotes, statistics from the articles and other pertinent pieces of information.
4) What are some resources/organization that can help you interact with this issue and/or accomplish your goal? Make sure you include contact information such as Names, addresses, phone numbers, web address.
5) What are potential projects you could do to affect and/or impact this issue (2-3 ideas)
a. Name of project idea
b. Basic outline/timeline of proposal (paragraph)
c. Impact? How will your actions impact the people/ community surrounding the issue?
Students independently made contact with the organizations, journaled about their experiences and interviewed experts on their issue. Some created movies, some blogs, Web sites, and some did a combination of both. Below are a few that were created for public consumption.

I think this project is a great example of authentic student learning and how technology can be used to expand that learning to a broader audience. It's a great example of what is working in public education!

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.