Students Wanted

11/12/2008 Update: We’ve decided to take a more grassroots approach and slowly grow interest in a student conference.

I’ve debated whether to put this out here in the great wide open because it’s really an experiment in the making.  New at NYSCATE is a student symposium where students will attend (hopefully), share (double hopefully) and learn (triple hopefully) with each other. Additionally, they’ll be trying to give back in some way, shape or form.

Reading Stories Wanted at The Stellar Cafe today convinced me that I was not doing what I want of the students who attend this event.  I wasn’t sharing, being transparent or seeking advice/help.

The experience begins by accepting the challenge, sometimes bravely, and making it real.

Right now, we’ve got students working to promote and poised to plan the event.  The goal is to include them in as many facets of the planning and implementation as possible.  There are students working on graphics for the event, writing, editing and recording radio spots for WBER 90.5 (listen now), directing and producing videos for distribution through YouTube and morning shows. We’ve even got Facebook and MySpace groups started to help promote the event. NOTE: we’re encouraging students to join these groups and educators, unless they are directly working with the event. As you can see, we’re pretty good in the promotion/marketing department, but what we don’t have is a set line-up of students to lead discussions and topics for sessions.

I believe I have one of the greatest jobs in education, however, the downside is that I don’t have direct contact with students everyday, so I need to rely on others… this is where you come in.

So in making it real, this is an all call for students and topics that they’d like to learn about, share about and lead about.  Ask your students what they are doing with technology that you might not be aware about (obviously I’m talking about the constructive stuff here) and learn something from them. Then, if you would, share it back here.

A small team of students will be planning out how this event will pan out on November 23rd at the annual NYSCATE Conference.  They’ll appreciate the help, and so will I.

Constructivist Celebration Takeaways

Constructivist Celebration - Playing with the XO Laptop

It has taken quite awhile for me to really piece together my experience at NECC. I’ll be honest, I’ll still be piecing it together for sometime to come. I went into the conference expecting to meet new people and meet face to face with those I’ve connected with on-line over the past year or two. Both happened and the discussions that took place taught me a good deal and confirmed some of my beliefs as well.

However, what has been bouncing around in my head the past few days is my experience at the Constructivist Celebration put together by Gary Stager and the Constructivist Consortium. Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s experience that made me look a bit differently at the sessions I chose to attend and the conversations that took place throughout the conference.

Real and authentic learning in a digital world may be more important than ever
There’s a lot of talk out there. Since
learning is doing, I’d personally like to see more students blogging about what they are doing, rather than what they are studying. Simply blogging or creating a wiki about a concept or topic does not prove that a student understands or is able to do anything.

The right brain, left brain war of signifigance is bogus
The interplay within the brain’s hemisphere’s is what it’s really all about. Creativity and logic can co-exist.

Open-ended Software
Most computer software available is not truly educational or built on learning theories. Open-ended programs such as the Inspiration series, Microworlds, Tech4Learning‘s programs, Scratch, Starlogo TNG, etc. allow users (this includes educators, parents and administrators) to create from a blank page.

“A good prompt is worth 1000 words”
When Gary Stager shared this point in his opening talk it reminded me of my graduate studies grounded in constructivist theory. The Constructivist theory is not solely about programming.
Constructing one’s own knowledge and skills is very personal learning as it engages emotions through doing rather than listening or simply sharing what is learned.I learned during that work that asking questions is an essential skill for teaching and learning. We must learn to communicate with our students in ways that get them thinking rather than regurgitating.

You really have to care about kids. Really.

Peter Reynolds spoke about an experience where a student reflected on how a teacher “noticed me”. Students see right through superficial “care” and the way we care for students needs to be more then just protecting them on-line or in the physical setting. Konrad and I spoke about this as well in regards to how he interacts with students in the hallway. He comments to students in the hall about their work, progress or a thought shared in class. Small signs of caring add up to a lot.

If you can’t do something well, do it well-ish
Peter Reynolds wrote a book called ish that gets at the idea that we don’t have to be experts at everything. He described this by talking about a drawing of a tree. If you can’t draw a tree draw it tree-ish. We’ve made the word “fail” too negative and halting. Learning is a process, we try things and they don’t always come out “right” the first time, we must be okay with working through stumbles.

Time to play is important
Thanks to Bud Hunt, Scott Swanson and April-Hope for the play time with the XO laptops during the day. While mine wasn’t working well at the time due to some updates needed, these three folks allowed me to play and learn from them. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make the Birds of a Feather session due to other conflicts, but I’m sure more playing and learning will go on after connecting with them here. We don’t allow ourselves to “play” with the concepts or skills that we teach and I think it’s critical that we do from time to time to remind us what it’s like to really learn.

I welcome your thoughts and push-back to further my reflection and learning here.

NECC – Pre-Conference

I often receive rolling eyes when I mention
conversations I’ve had with others. Well, NECC is here and a lot of
it is about conversation. Conversations in the halls of the conference
center, the Blogger’s Cafe, before, during and after concurrent
sessions or at dinner. Tonight’s conference kicked off well for
conversation with Brian Crosby, Bud Hunt, David Warlick, David Jakes, Dean Shareski, Jeff Utecht, Laura Deisley, Wendy Smith, and Will Richardson.
You learn a lot through conversation, but as much as I like to
converse, I’m reminded of a quote from Plato I loved to share with students and
colleagues.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

To be honest, I’m here for the conversation and to play. I enjoy most the
conversation where I listen and my previous thinking is challenged. I
am also here for the play. I intend to use the XO laptop as much as I
can to hopefully get others to join in and play on this machine.

So what/who will you play with this NECC conference?

Maybe it’s semantics…

[Updated June 9, 2008]

… but when I have to I’m going to start using the phrase social media instead of Web 2.0.


Social Media in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

Based on my experiences, I think the use of Web 2.0 is just too confusing and too many people get caught up in tools. I think that social media does a better job of getting at the social nature of learning and the new means in which anyone can create, publish, and participate.

Learning to Change

David Warlick posted the following video this morning. As I began to watch, I was thinking about the simplicity of the black backdrop and the pan and zoom effects involved. As Dean says, design matters, because I was pleasantly surprised to find Dr. Deborah Baker, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction for the Brighton Central School District, be a part of this message. I’ve had the pleasure to work with many educators and administrators in Brighton and have enjoyed the conversations and progress made there in their 2020 Vision.

K12 Online Conference 2008 – Call for Proposals

Keeping with helping the PR committee for the K12 Online Conference last year I must follow the lead of Bud the Teacher and Darren Karopatwa in sharing out the call for proposals for this year’s conference. As you may or may not know, this conference is on-going. A unique conference that keeps on giving the whole year through. Participants can view and participate in sessions anytime, anywhere and yes, you can still see two year’s worth of sessions free of charge at the conference blog site. Since it is a blog, you can subscribe to the latest updates for the conference using the conference post feed.

Check it out and see what all the hullabaloo is about… oh, and if you are so inclined (and many of you are) consider submitting a proposal for this year’s conference. Here’s the scoop on this year’s conference:

Amplifying Possibilities

We are pleased to announce the call for proposals for the third annual “K12 Online Conference” for educators around the world interested in the use of web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year’s conference is scheduled for October 20-24 and October 27-31 of 2008, and will include a pre-conference keynote during the week of October 13. The conference theme for 2008 is “Amplifying Possibilities.” Participation in the conference (as in the past) is entirely free. Conference materials are published in English and available for worldwide distribution and use under a Creative Commons license. Some changes in the requirements for presentations are being made this year and are detailed below. The deadline for proposal submission is June 23, 2008. Selected presentations will be announced at NECC 2008 in San Antonio, Texas, USA on July 2.

OVERVIEW:

As in past years, K12 Online 2008 will feature four “conference strands,” two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday through Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two weeks. Including the pre-conference keynote, a total of 41 presentations will be published. Each twenty minute (or less) presentation will be shared online in a downloadable format and released simultaneously via the conference blog (www.k12onlineconference.org,) the conference Twitter account, and the conference audio and video podcast channels. All presentations will be archived online for posterity. A total of 82 past presentations are currently available from K12 Online 2006 and K12 Online 2007. If you are planning to submit a proposal, please review archived presentations from past years to determine what you might offer that is new and builds on previous work. A variety of live events will also be planned during and following the weeks of the conference.

FOUR STRANDS:

Week 1

Strand A: Getting Started

Everything you wanted to know about getting started with web 2.0 technologies for learning but were afraid to ask. The presentations in this strand will focus on specific, free tools for newcomers. Whether you have one classroom computer or a laptop for every student, digital technologies can provide new opportunities to connect with other learners, create new and exciting knowledge products, and engage students in an expanded learning process beyond the traditional “boundaries of the bell.” Teachers first introduced to Web 2.0 tools are often unaware of the new possibilities for teaching and learning afforded by the Read/Write Web. Presentations in this strand will amplify and what is possible in terms of pedagogy, student creation of content, and collaboration. Practical classroom implementation ideas will be emphasized. Presentations will focus more on the ways new tools can be used to engage students in learning, rather than focusing exclusively on how specific tools are used. If you’ve ever felt like everyone else knows more than you about teaching with technology and you need help getting started, this is the strand for you.

Strand B: Kicking It Up a Notch

You’ve been using blogs, wikis and other technologies for awhile but perhaps haven’t seen them transform your classroom and the learning environment for your students in the ways you think they can. This strand amplifies ways new technologies can be used to transform classroom and personal learning. Rather than merely replicating traditional, analog-based learning tasks, how can digital technologies permit teacher-leaders to “infomate” learning to add greater interactivity, personal differentiation, and multi-modal exploration of curriculum topics? Fresh new approaches to using Web 2.0 tools for learning and authentic assessment will be highlighted. Presentations will explore innovative ways Web 2.0 tools can be blended together to help students create, collaborate, and share the knowledge safely on the global stage of the Internet. Maybe it’s time to share your insights and experiences with your teaching community. Join these sessions to gain insights on amplifying the possibilities of learning in your classroom and/or your professional practice.

Week 2

Strand A: Prove it

Although some teachers are excited to “amplify possibilities” using computer technologies, Web 2.0 tools, and 21st Century learning strategies in their classrooms, how do we know if these innovative instructional strategies are really working? Since information technologies and emerging brain research continue to rapidly evolve and change, it is challenging as well as vital to find current, meaningful research to undergird the learning initiatives we are using in our classrooms. What are “best practices” for teaching and learning with the new participatory media? This strand will share research results from the field that support students in using knowledge to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, build community and solve problems. In addition, successful methods for developing and/or delivery of action research projects or research-based instruction in today’s digital world will be explored. In some cases, participants may be invited to participate in ongoing or beginning research on Web 2.0 tool use, constructivist pedagogy, or other 21st Century research issues. Educational research about emerging professional development strategies, contemporary learning theory, systemic school reform, and other current themes of educational change are also appropriate for inclusion in this strand.

Help us to examine such research questions as:

  • What does research in learning science, instructional design, informal learning, and other fields tell us about today’s learner and their success?
  • What design features must teachers incorporate into their instructional activities to support meaningful learning?
  • What is the role of assessment in today’s changing classroom? How should assessment be structured to meaningfully assess student achievement in the context of the modern classroom?

Strand B: Leading the Change

Innovative approaches to teaching and learning using web 2.0 tools are often utilized by a limited number of “early adopter” teachers in our schools. This strand seeks to amplify ways educators in a variety of contexts are serving as constructive catalysts for broad-based pedagogic change using Web 2.0 technologies as well as student-centered, project-based approaches to learning. Presentations in this strand will both showcase successful strategies as well as amplify critical issues which must be addressed for innovative learning methods to be adopted by teachers, librarians, and administrators on a more widespread basis. These issues may include (but are not limited to) issues of copyright, fair use and intellectual property, Internet content filtering, student privacy and safety issues, administrator expectations for teacher utilization of Web 2.0 tools, pilot initiatives utilizing key Web 2.0 technologies in different content areas, and innovative ways students and teachers are providing just-in-time support as well as formal learning opportunities for each other focusing on Web 2.0 tools. Successful approaches for both large and small schools, in rural as well as urban settings, will be included. This strand will explore and amplify a menu of practical ideas for educators in diverse contexts who want to continue amplifying possibilities in our schools.

CALL FOR PROPOSALS:

This call encourages all educators, both experienced and novice with respect to Web 2.0 learning tools, to submit proposals to present at this conference via this link. Take this opportunity to share your successes, strategies, and tips in “amplifying the possibilities” of web 2.0 powered learning in one of the four conference strands.

The deadline for proposal submissions is June 23, 2008 at midnight GMT. You will be contacted no later than July 2, 2008 regarding your proposal’s status. The conveners reserve to right to reposition a presentation in another strand if they believe it is best placed elsewhere. As in past years, conveners will utilize blind review committees to evaluate all submissions.

Presentations for K12Online08 must conform to the following requirements:

  1. Presentations must be a single media file of twenty minutes or less in length.
  2. Presentations must be submitted in a downloadable and convertable file format (mp3, mov, WMV, FLV, m4a, or m4v.) Presenters wanting to use an alternative format should contact their respective strand convener in advance.
  3. Presentations are due two weeks prior to the week the relevant strand begins. (Week 1 presentations are due Monday, October 6, Week 2 presentations are due Monday, October 13.)
  4. Presentations must be submitted only one time and on time. Early submissions are welcomed! Repeat submissions (with changes and additional edits) will not be accepted. Presenters should proof carefully before submitting!
  5. All presentations will be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

The following are optional but encouraged presentation elements:

  1. Prior to September 13th, presenters are invited to submit a “teaser” (maximum video or audio file length: 3 minutes) about their presentation. This can be any type of online artifact and does not have to be downloadable. Examples may include videos, animations, posters, audio interviews, etc.
  2. In addition to marketing the presentation, teasers can be designed to encourage and solicit community input related to the presentation topic in advance of the presentation submission deadline.
  3. View teaser examples from 2007 at http://k12online07.wikispaces.com/Teasers
  4. Supplementary materials supporting presentations are welcomed. These can be wikis with supporting material links, linked examples of student projects, school district exemplary initiatives, social bookmarking collections, and/or other related content.
  5. Follow-up projects and/or live interaction opportunities for conference presentations which further amplify the possiblities of the presentation topic may be included. (This can include sharing and building of content prior to, during and after the conference.)

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, Intellectual Property, Copyright and Fair Use
  • Student voices
  • Community involvement
  • 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
  • Teacher/peer collaboration
  • Authentic assessment
  • Overcoming content filtering issues
  • Navigating “open web” versus “closed web” publishing of student work

Prospective presenters are reminded that the audience of the K12 Online Conference is global in nature and diverse in their educational context. For this reason presentations and presentation materials which address issues from a variety of perspectives are welcomed.

EVALUATION

Acceptance decisions will be made based on RELEVANCE, SIGNIFICANCE, ORIGINALITY, QUALITY, and CLARITY. Borrowing from the COSL 2008 call for proposals:

A submission is RELEVANT when

  • it directly addresses the conference and strand themes

A submission is SIGNIFICANT when

  • it raises and discusses issues important to improving the effectiveness and/or sustainability of 21st Century teaching and learning efforts, and
  • its contents can be broadly (globally) disseminated and understood

A submission is ORIGINAL when

  • it addresses a new problem or one that hasn’t been studied in depth,
  • it has a novel combination of existing research results which promise new insights, and / or
  • it provides a perspective on problems different from those explored before

A submission is of HIGH QUALITY when

  • existing literature is drawn upon, and / or
  • claims are supported by sufficient data, and / or
  • an appropriate methodology is selected and properly implemented, and / or
  • limitations are described honestly

A submission is CLEARLY WRITTEN when

  • it is organized effectively, and / or
  • the English is clear and unambiguous, and / or
  • it follows standard conventions of punctuation, mechanics, and citation, and / or
  • the readability is good

KEYNOTES:

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.

CONVENERS:

  • 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. Darren’s professional blog is called A Difference (http://adifference.blogspot.com). He will convene Getting Started.
  • Dean Shareski is a Digital Learning Consultant for Prairie South School Division in Saskatchewan, Canada. Dean is an advocate for the use of social media in the classroom. To that end he works with teachers and students in exploring ways to make learning relevant, authentic and engaging. He also is a part time sessional lecturer for the University of Regina. He is celebrating his 20th year as an educator. Dean blogs at (http://ideasandthoughts.org). Dean will convene Kicking It Up A Notch.
  • 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 preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where she is in the dissertation phase of completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. As the cofounder of the Powerful Learning Practice Network she helps schools and teachers from around the world use community as a powerful tool for systemic change. You can find out more on her website at www.21stcenturycollaborative.com. She will convene Prove It.
  • Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change agent. He summarizes his ongoing work with educators and students in social media environments with the statement, “I’m here for the learning revolution.” His blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” was selected as the 2006 “Best Learning Theory Blog” by eSchoolnews and Discovery Education. Social media sites to which Wes contributes are listed on http://claimid.com/wfryer. Wes will convene Leading the Change.

QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions about any part of this call for proposals, please contact one of us:

  • Darren Kuropatwa: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com
  • Dean Shareski: shareski{at} gmail{dot} com
  • Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach: snbeach {at} cox {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).

Gaming & Education

Today, I woke up, grabbed some coffee and settled into my ritual of reading my daily feeds of news and blog posts. First in my aggregator as this post by Sylvia Martinez related to gaming and education. My comments on her post were from the perspective of professional development and how sometimes we don’t think deep enough about what we, as educators, can learn from games or anything else for that matter.

That said, next week I’m co-teaching a Gaming in Education workshop for teachers in our area. We’ve invited a high school senior (and gamer) for this workshop who will be introducing our participants to the world of gaming via a LAN experience. He will
also lend his perspective to our discussions planned throughout the session. We’ve planned a spectrum of games for our participants to
experience, but the meat of this workshop, I hope, will come through in the conversation.

I’m iming for experiences and dialogue that start subsequent conversations back in faculty rooms, hallways, classrooms and homes. I don’t mean the ones that imply that more educational games need to be created or that we need to implement games in the classroom. I plan to throw these questions at our participants. What would you add to the list?

  • What level of engagement is necessary for learning?
  • How can game design impact instructional practice?
  • What aspects of gaming can we use to build engaging learning experiences?

Theories, Approaches & Teaching

I’m currently reading Communities of Practice by Etienne Wenger and as I began a question popped into my head. Do most educators knowingly base their practice within a particular theory or approach?

A web search for theories of learning turned up a site that categorized learning theories into Paradigms:

Behaviorism – Based on stimulus-response and can be explained without considering conscious thought.

Cognitivism – Mental function can be understood where the learner is seen as an information processor.

Constructivism – Learning is an active, constructive process where students expected to construct understanding and knowledge from information.

Humanism – learning is a personal act to fulfill one’s potential where learner has affective and cognitive needs.

I imagine that most educators use a variety of these in their practice, but I wonder if most educators identify with one more than the other, if at all. Should an educator base themselves within one of these paradigms?


Does identifying one’s practice within one of these paradigms provided a entry point for a joining a community of practice?

Take a Risk

I’ve been helping to facilitate a Collegial Learning Circle (CLC) of 20+ educators who are dipping their toes into some new learning environments through the K12 Online Conference. This group is small and made up of professionals who have volunteered. We are using a private group in the K12 Online Ning as a space where this group can meet asynchronously between the few face to face meetings.

Joanna Sero a kindergarten teacher, started a blog prior to the formation of this group. Although I’ve had few conversations with her face to face I really think I’m getting a good sense for the kind of teacher she is by reading her blog. Her post for the Passion Quilt Meme had me thinking that what she has to say reaches far beyond Kindergarten and into the CLC itself:

As a teacher and mom who is passionate about lifelong learning, I challenge myself to be brave and dare to try something new…in the classroom, at home, in the world. Maybe it will work, or maybe it won’t…maybe I will love it, and maybe I won’t, but at least I will give it my best shot. Take it from our children: take a risk!

Only a handful of folks in the CLC have gotten started a month and a half in, however, we’ve got the “stuck faucet” to turn a bit with some face to face support and I, among others, have been working to respond in a very timely manner to folks who do post new discussions or comments. Do you have any suggestions as we try to encourage them to take a risk?

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Meme: Passion Quilt

I’ve been tagged by Sylvia for the Passion Quilt Meme.  I’ve decided to pull from my personal collection for this photo meme.  The photo above is of our daughter after helping me to find a geocache almost 3 years ago.

Often times when we go geocaching we don’t find a cache because we see something more interesting.  Be it animal tracks, a scurrying animal or a odd looking tree formation, a learning opportunity presents itself.  When she inquires about the discovery, why would I squander that with an agenda to find a box of trinkets?

Far too often I hear students say that they there is nothing to do, that they are bored.  They’ll sit and do nothing, but stare at the flashing of a computer screen, television or their video games. Hogwash.  (Note: While I advocate for each of these in educational and entertainment value, however, we must remember moderation is key.)

So my passion is about active learning, learning by doing.  Learning by doing things, not just spewing what they know.  When we are out and about, we open opportunities for play and discovery resulting in learning.

Directions: Find or create an image that captures what you are most passionate for kids to learn about.

  • Post a picture from a source like Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn…and give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I’m tagging these folks from my regional network:

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