Sunday, December 09, 2007

Does Math Make Sense?

Do you have students who wonder...
      • When will I ever use this in my life?
      • Will I really use math outside of school?
      • Do I really use it my everyday life?
      • Who really uses math in their jobs?
      • What kind of math is needed for different kinds of jobs?
      • Does math really make a difference?
Then MathConnections is for you and your students.

Math Connections is a collaborative project for elementary students across the world to...

Experiment, Discuss, and Discover new adventures in learning math together.

Project Purpose
Math is found and used everywhere in our world. This collaborative project is designed to provide a place for students and teachers to share their experiences with math and discover the connection of mathematics study to their own real world experiences. We invite classrooms from around the world to join us in a project that focuses on what making connections with math in the real world.

Join Us...and make math make sense for your students.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thowing Out the Box

Scott Meech blogged about his disappointment that he would not be presenting at ICE this February and questioned whether he needed to sell himself a little better. I was having the same feeling tonight upon learning that I will not be presenting at PETE&C this February after having been a presenter the past two years. I've been trying to think about the bigger picture- what it means for me, what it means to me. What I really hope for in the long run is the opportunity to connect with other educators and to pass on what I have learned which is why is feels so disappointing. David Warlick in a recent post also explained why he wants to do follow-up sessions to conference presentations. He said...
It’s through interactions with educators and education leaders that I learn, that I get my ideas tested, stretched, and refined.

At first impression, it feels ironic that the past six months have brought amazing people and possibilities into my world and brought about monumental change in the way I learn and find support. I, too, relish the opportunity to float ideas, to discuss possibilities, to sharpen my thinking. I know the difference in my perspective and understanding. I have experienced the powerful learning my network can collectively bring to a presentation. Perhaps the box is what I have been living in and have outgrown. Perhaps it is time to consider new avenues rather than what I expected or hoped for. Perhaps it is time to think outside of the box or better yet, throw out the box. The possibilities truly are endless.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Testing a Hook

I too wonder what is the hook to help educators, administrators, and parents understand our changing world and the impact it is having on schools, students, and learning. Jeff Utecht, in a recent post, refers us to George Siemens’connectivism blog which also always makes me really think. I find George's posts have an amazing ability to identify and explore ideas which have been nagging at me and which I have not yet resolved with any satisfaction. His critical analysis and questioning of the status quo pushes my thinking in new directions to consider new perspectives.

Jeff's post titled, "Shift happened, what's the hook?", was a response to one of George Siemens' posts on Digital natives and immigrants. Is there a difference in our students of today? Or is it our society that is different? How do we respond to it? How do we engage others in understanding it? Jeff wondered

So I’m left thinking; what’s the hook? What is it we tell educators, administrators, parents, school boards, and community members for the reason we need to shift the way we teach? They have been part of this social shift yet they don’t understand it, or refuse to see it. Out-sourcing is part of this shift, so is in-sourcing, so is innovation, and business. We all live in this shifted society but do we understand it? Do we understand what it means not only for us but for our children?

To me, understanding seems to be a key factor. How do we help people understand? During the past month, I have been exploring ways to help parents understand. My last blog post described a Parent Math Night my school held to help parents UNDERSTAND the district's commitment to developing stronger conceptual understandings of mathematical concepts. The evening was a success based on the parents' evaluation of the evening with all parents responding that they increased their understanding conceptual mathematics as a result of the evening activities.

Another attempt on my part was the creation of a wiki, the Learning Hub, for parents and students to use and explore topics related to our classroom studies. Essentially, my decision hinged on my idea that one way to help parents understand the changing face of our world and its impact was to engage them in tools that I was using with their children in my classroom.

I introduced students to the Learning Hub in class explaining it's purpose and encouraging them to share it with their parents. An email, informed parents of the new opportunity to be involved in their child's learning. Created as a protected wiki, parents also received invitations to join the wiki and to participate in a fun project at home with their child. The project was a simple science experiment which was designed by students following their participation in the Technospud O.R.E.O. project developed by Jennifer Wagner. Interestingly, even though a page on the wiki was connected to a classroom project and invited parents to participate in learning with their child, less than a handful of parents accepted the invitation to join and add the results of their experiment onto the wiki. Ok, so basically they weren't interested, were too busy to do the experiment with their child at home, or perhaps they were uncomfortable with the wiki format.

I was certainly hoping for a stronger response.

What to do next? Posting student work was my next strategy. I toyed with the idea of changing the wiki to a private status, which would require parents to join as members in order to have permission to see the contents of the wiki. But, that would not make them any more likely to participate in the wiki. And what I really envisioned was an opportunity for children to learn with their parents, and for parents to be in a position to learn from their children.

I crafted my next attempt following my students' work in creating digital stories for Chris Craft's Life'Round Here global collaborative project. The students had successfully created amazing videos sharing their focused personal passions and views of life where they live. (Another post lies in waiting to share more about their videos and learning gained from the project.) But, just posting the student videos was clearly not going to be enough to engage the parents. This time I decided to ask the parents to use the Discussion tab to reflect upon the students' video. In class, students were posting their own learning reflections to their blogs in Moodle. I promoted the LearningHub discussion tab as a parent homework assignment that provided an opportunity for parents to also reflect on the students' work. In an email I sent to the parents asking them to respond to the videos. I highlighted the power of receiving comments from a real audience which significantly increases student commitment to producing quality work. Our first responses from parents are beginning to appear with parents uniformly impressed with their children's ability to produce such quality videos and fascinated that the students have learned how to create them - and marveling over the change in what students can do today compared to their own experiences.

Slowly, but surely, parents have joined our LearningHub and begun to participate in the changing educational landscape.

What should be the next strategy to further hook our parents? Any suggestions?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Making Math Connections

It's been a short and frenzied two weeks since parent conferences and the following early morning's decision to host a parent math night in response to parent's genuine questions about the new focus on conceptual understanding of mathematics. The questions emanated from a true desire to help their children and to feel that the education of their children is a partnership between parents and the school. The questions were many and varied.
          • What does my child do in math class?
          • Why isn't the homework the same?
          • Why is there so much writing in math class?
          • How can I help my child at home?
The answers and explanations can, at best, merely begin to address the larger philosophy of mathematics pedagogy and their child's progress within it during a short twenty minute conference. And so, three teachers and a principal quickly harnessed their energy and brainstormed the idea of holding a Parent Math Night- sooner rather than later. Checking school calendars, Tuesday, November 13 was selected. At an impromptu faculty meeting called at the end of that day, the rest of the teaching staff learned of the idea and were encouraged to become involved.

And did they ever become involved!

Twenty-two teachers,

volunteering to give their time,

share their knowledge,

and join in embracing parents as partners in the education of children.

The K-12 Math Supervisor and two math coaches were consulted. And a plan for the evening meeting was hatched. The focus would be to help parents to better understand the the NCTM Standards which were the basis for our newly revised mathematics curriculum. We would teach the parents math lessons, just as their children experienced them. Throughout the lessons, teachers would engage the parents in discussions of their problem solving strategies, alternate ways to represent the mathematical concept, and meaningful ways in which the concept interconnected with other mathematical concepts and with the real world. They would encourage them to communicate their ideas both orally and in writing, using mathematical language. We fully expect the parents to have an understanding of the concepts we teach to them, but want them to explore why the algorithm works the way it does. Teachers stepped up to the place, volunteering to lead and facilitate two lessons- teaching regrouping in addition (or subtraction) and the multiplication of fractions.

An article, "Tying It All Together" in the most recent NCTM publication, Teaching Children Mathematics offered the idea of using a simple four-part chart to record multiple representations of a concept. We revised the chart for our purpose and audience and planned to use it as a tool for parents to record their mathematical experiences from the evening. At an inservice a week ago, teachers were shown the video "Mathematics: What Are You Teaching My Child" with Marilyn Burns. Upon viewing it themselves, committee members were sure it was the perfect visual introduction for immersing parents in the world of their childen's math classes.

What else was needed?

A flyer inviting parents to the evening.
An offer of babysitting services.
Handouts to guide and record parents' thinking.
An evaluation form for the eveing.
Resources to show and share.
A parent's toolbox with ideas of how to help with math at home.

The agenda for the evening began to take shape.

Parent Math Night

Schedule for the Evening

7:00 Introductions –Principal Vincent School

7:05 Overview of Math - Supervisor of K-12 Mathematics

7:15 Video – Mathematics: What Are You Teaching My Child?

7:40 Move to Tables for Mathematics Lesson

Blue Dot Group - Regrouping Exploration

Red Dot Group - Multiplication of Fractions Exploration

7:55 Move to second Lesson Session

Blue Dot Group - Multiplication of Fractions Exploration

Red Dot Group - Regrouping Exploration

8:10 Reconvene as whole group for Review of experiences

8:20 How can you help?

8:25 Closing – Thank you for coming.
Please complete and turn in your evaluation form at the door.

I think we have a pretty awesome evening planned. What has been nagging at me is the fact that we will only reach an interested, yet small portion of our parent audience. What I really would like to see is a way to involve all the other parents at home.

Maybe I should UStream the whole evening.
What do you think?

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Tapestry of Understanding

The K20 Online Conference has just barely closed but not ended. Many, I for one, have not yet had time to listen, view, and digest all of the presentations. But, David Warlick's keynote and Clarence Fisher's presentation still resonate for me.

Flickr Photo by andydr

"We are Inventing New Boundaries." David Warlick

"It is not about where you live anymore." Clarence Fisher

Our increasingly global world along with the proliferation of Web2.0 tools presents us with an opportunity we have never had before, perhaps never even dreamed about. The opportunity is vast, but how does this translate into educational practice?

We are now able to cross the boundaries of time and space.

We are now able, quite easily, to discover
learning whenever, wherever, and with whomever best suits our needs. What impacts will it have on teaching and learning? What impact will it have when we can see, chat, and learn from people across the world? How will it impact our thinking when we learn about the world through the eyes and beliefs of others across the world? What new layers of thinking and understanding will we need to develop?

One layer will challenge our understanding of context. The fact that so many people responded to the amazing context of
Clarence Fisher in Canada and David Warlick's
changing scenes says something. They invited us into their worlds and shared a part of themselves. Seeing the images of them in a context
opened a window into their worlds and ideas that words alone could not
have accomplished. We all know how helpful it is to finally put a face to a name. But, by adding the context of a place, a new level of understanding grew.

Connecting with others with a view of their location in the backdrop offers a new visual layer of understanding and connection to navigate. What can our students learn about
about perspective, viewpoint, and the relationships between the strands
of geography though the contexts of global collaborations? We are far beyond passively viewing a video offering highlights of the geography, culture, and people of a place. What more do they learn by exploring the sights and sounds of another place at a personal level rendered through the eyes and beliefs of another?

Connecting personally will demand more from learners. By crossing the boundaries of time and space, learners will be
challenged to explore the the relationships between context and beliefs. It will challenge their stereotypes and shake the status quo. It will push them to listen, really listen, to ask questions, and to seek new levels of understanding. Within the context of the challenge, their lies a genuine opportunity for developing new relationships and for weaving new tapestries of global understanding.

What colors are in your tapestry of understanding?

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Engaging Parents in Change

What does it take to bring about change?

Education, understanding, involvement? Any conversation about technology use in education seems to eventually turn to talk about ways to bring about change. Change needs to occur on many fronts at a many levels. So often we discuss ways to involve fellow teachers and administrators. But, change needs to engage all the stakeholders- community members, board members, students, and parents. This past week I unveiled The Learning Hub, in an effort to engage parents in the conversation and experience of learning in the 21st century.

The Learning Hub is a place where parents and students can explore, experiment, discuss, and discuss new adventures in learning together. In an email to parents, I explained that is a place where you can go to learn about the things we are doing in school, not just by reading about them, but by actually participating in them. It is just in its infancy, but will continue to grow as the year continues. Set up as a private wiki, each parent received an invitation to join.

The home page introduces parents to the concept of a wiki, addresses basic online safety guidelines, and invites parents to join in on their first adventure of learning together - the Sinking O.R.E.O. project. The inspiration for the project arose from the students' work with the O.R.E.O. Technospud Project created by Jennifer Wagner. On the link to the O.R.E.O. project, parents can view the graphs created by their children after selecting and analyzing data generated by 613 participating classes. Challenged to think further about the scientific method, students designed the Sinking O.R.E.O. project for parents and students to try at home. The extra wrinkle to the project is the Sinking O.R.E.O. Results page where parents and students are asked to edit the wiki and add their results to the page.

Will this effort effect any change? Time will tell.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Today's News- We Are Behind

Ok, so I read Doug Johnson's latest blog entry which eloquently sums up our challenge in bringing educators into the fold. He offers simple yet wise guidelines for helping to make change happen in our schools. I agree with the WIFM approach but take it back one step further. I have often suggested that a simple approach to helping teachers understand the power of today's technology lies in finding their passion, whether it be scrapbooking, football, or popular culture and introducing them to blogs and wikis that will feed their passion. Being engaged personally is a first step to guiding them to consider its implications for the students in their class- WIFS- what's in for students.

YES, all of us need to feel empowered, to know that our voice is heard. To realize that our ideas are valued. The more we find ways to bring the many stakeholders into the conversation, the better chance we will have to accomplish the awesome task in front of us.

If I hear one complaint more often than another it would be the expectation that teachers are expected to differentiate instruction for all of the students in their classroom, yet in-service programs typically do not take into account that teachers have differing levels of expertise, learning styles, and needs just as their students do. Offering a range of training options is what they want.

But, it was the comment from Malcolm Lambe that drove the point home that we had better get serious about "raising the bar" for change in schools. He points us to a post about 2D Barcodes. The barcodes that appear on all of our grocery store products and are scanned for the purchase price and much more including inventory and personal preferences are 1D barcodes. Well, it seems according to this post that the United States is rather FAR BEHIND is our use of now 2D barcodes, which when scanned hyperlink to internet sites.

According to David Harper these bar codes are being used extensively in Japan and have become part of their everyday life. They can be found just about anywhere- in magazines, outside of restaurants, on coffee cups, on advertisements, food, you name it. Using a phonecam, a picture is taken of the code and then programing within the phone connects you to a web page giving you access to information about the product or service in an instant.

While for many schools, the use of phones in United States schools is a controversial topic and simply often forbidden, other major parts of the world have moved passed the issue and have embraced the questions of how they can be used to improve information retrieval, connections, and communication. It is not a matter of whether we should, it is HOW.

We have the ability to access information at a click through a mobile device, but it has become routine in Japan with 90% of people accessing the web this way according to Scanbuy a New York based maker of 2D barcode software. And Japan is not alone in the use of mobile devices to access the web. But it is not so, here in the United States. Why not? Well, one reason, according to Malcolm Lambe is the fact that 70% of phones with cameras in the US do not even have the software necessary to interpret a 2D bar while 65% of the phones in Japan do. McDonald's will be testing the use of 2D barcode technology in Portugal and Germany. What about the US? What are we waiting for?

For educators, 2D Barcodes aside, it is the explosion of ready access to information at a click from a handheld mobile device that is significant. The teacher's job of passing on information is extinct.
We've been replaced.

Every lesson we teach should be more than the facts. We don't need students who can memorize information. We need critical thinkers, who can analyze and evaluate the flood of information at their fingertips.

So back to professional development. We base our choices on what we are knowledgeable about. If we don't know other possibilities, we will never ask for them. We need to immerse our educators in this type of technology which others across the world are using daily. We need to show them the power it has to transform their daily lives. And we need to engage them in the dialogue of how it might also transform their instruction. And we need to do it NOW because the world has shifted, even if they don't know it.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Future Shock? Daily Shock!

So, how do you keep up with the constantly, relentless onslaught of new ideas, new tools, and morphing information? I am, on a daily basis, reminded of the very real fact that I am a digital immigrant whose ability to multitask is somewhat high, but not at the level to absorb the barrage of information which appears through my email, RSS feeds, twitter, and numerous learning communities to which I belong. I, admittedly, am not a young 'un, which may be at the root of the problem. But, at the same time, the pure thrill of connecting and learning invigorates me and pushes me to continue on my adventure. What I struggle with is the cacophony of ideas which seem disparate yet I know are related, if only I had the time to make sense of them. What I sense is my need for more time than others within my edublogger world to absorb and synthesize the continuous flow of information.

I thrive on new ideas, new adventures, new possibilities, new ways of thinking. Yet, without sufficient time to digest and synthesize ideas, I resort to saving, tagging, and storing all of which, if I acted upon them hold the potential to change my perspective. What I also suspect is are several factors at work. When my bloglines rss feeder is exploding at the seems,I approach the new posts with a singular sense of purpose. I tend to approach new blog posts from a narrow
perspective, in a perhaps misguided attempt to keep up. Another factor is my own personal barrier between my personal and public comment. The differing expectations and criteria I place upon my verbal and written commentary are a factor in my reluctance to recording my thoughts for others to read and critique. When I carry on a discussion with others, I can find it easy to chat, respond to others, and to ask questions. I expect that others will also readily join in that conversation. Certainly, there are times when studied and researched thought is important and a significant addition to a public discussion. But, equally important, is the potential for my own growth from sharing with others.

So, perhaps a new strategy is necessary. It is not about keeping up. It is really about learning. Less is more. By reading and connecting deeply to fewer ideas I can make more sense of this rapidly expanding world. The fact that I missed it last week or last month should not be a problem. When I do need to learn something, I can always turn to my network to discover the answer. They are my buffer and support in making sense of the this technologically exploding world.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

First Day Hopes and Promises

DAY 1...
Scanning the sea of freshly trimmed hair, new sneakers, and backbacks nestled on small shoulders, a feeling of anticipation, of new beginnings and fresh possibilities enveloped the room.
There was a palpable sensation that this September would be different. That nothing that had happened before would matter. Today was a fresh start. With forward looking eyes, students gathered with their classmates to join their new teacher and headed down the hallway to begin the year's adventure.

Those first few moments of nervousness, of anticipation hold such hope. How I wish that we could capture and bottle that energy. How I wish that nothing would infect and diminish the hope of the first day of school. For we all arrive the first day feeling it - students, teachers, administrators. Its ability to empower us into positive action is undeniable.

Let us resolve that we will capture the first day snapshot in our minds and also our spirit. That as the inevitable downtrodden days arrive when we are tired and short on passion, with too much to do, we will relive the first day moment and be recharged with the hopes and power of a new day.
  • Let us resolve to start each day as if it were the first day.
  • To leave the troubles of a day behind us.
  • To greet each child and colleague each day with a fresh view.
  • To find new possibilities in every day.
  • To dream of what is possible, not impossible.
  • To look forward and find the way to make a difference.
Photo from cmiked's photos on Flickr.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Planning for the Next 180

My spirit lifts its wings to catch the gentle breeze as the last day of summer's freedom come to an end.

September...A new beginning.
Fresh with energy and hope.

What new adventures lie ahead?
Who will we meet?
What will we discover about others...about ourselves?

Each year is so unique. Whatever this year holds for it, it most definitely will not be the same as last year. I have the luxury of continuing with students from year to year, sometimes for as long as their elementary career. This enables me to build upon their previous years' experiences. In addition, it offers me the challenge (which I love) of continually having to develop new questions and to find new avenues for them to explore.

So what are the possibilities?

Perhaps remembering where we have been and what we experienced last year is a good starting point.

I definitely want to have my students engage in a collaborative project with other classrooms again this year. Last year, we jumped in with both feet, finding collaborative projects to join across a range of topics and curricular areas. They were involved in several projects including:

Megaconference Jr. - an amazing twelve-hour worldwide videoconferencing event
The Global Warming Student Speak Out - a collaborative problem solving project giving students an opportunity to collectively brainstorm strategies to fight global warming using Google Docs & Spreadsheets
Global Warming - Race for the Tipping Point - a Magpi sponsored project about Global Warming
Read Around the Planet - a pairing of classrooms to celebrate "NEA's Read Across America"
Holiday Card Exchange - One of several collaborative projects developed by Jennifer Wagner as part of her TechnospudProjects.
Global Sun Temperature Project -a scientific exploration of how geographic location affects the average daily temperature and hours of sunlight.

i also want to continue to reach beyond our classroom wall through the use of videoconferencing and virtual field trips. Last year we participated in Operation Montserrat- an eMission simulation from the Challenger Learning Center. We also participated in several Ball State eField Trips including a visit to Hawaii for the Eruption trip, a visit to Philadelphia to explore Freedom in America, and a trip to the Indianapolis Speedway to study the Science of Speed. We followed the migration of shore birds through Migration Science and Mystery and joined another class posted through CILC for a literature discussion of the book Bridge to Teribithia.

Wow! Seeing everything we did listed all at once is powerful.

The possibilities for this year...are limitless. I had better get cracking on this year's list.

Any suggestions?

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Returning from Break

Did you have a good summer?
Did you get away?
What did you do?

I had so many good intentions to accomplish so much.

Where did the summer go??

Posting to my blog was certainly near the top of the list.

But, that didn't exactly happen.

In fact, it has been quite some time since I last posted...May to be exact. Back in May, the demands of work, professional life, and family life exploded. Summer arrived with responsibilities for making presentations including my first stint at making a full-day presentation. More about that later. By the time life seemed to calm down, my head was so full new ideas and my RSS feeds were bursting at the seams. I made a commitment to myself to catch up on my feeds (over 1000) before I moved forward. Well, that commitment simply exacerbated my brain overload. I would read new feeds, discover new insights, draft new blog entries, and then move forward to the next feed. The cycle continued. At the same time I additionally discovered Twitter. The questions, postings, connections and network that make Twitter so powerful in the edublogger world had me hooked.
So, here I am on the first day of the new school year, just posting my first blog entry since May. While I have no blog posts to document my summer experiences, I did gain some interesting insights which should provide good fodder for additional posts.

Friday, May 18, 2007

More Virtual Me's

The continuing blossoming of virtual worlds and self created avatars begs my attention and exploration for educational experiences. It was just last Friday, when made my first foray into Second Life. I created my first avatar, Lucinda Nishi. I was easily drawn into the creative nuances of playing with the amazing range of possibilities from facial expressions to hair color to dress and to the new possibilities of new people and new worlds. Thanks to Seve Dembo's post on the DEN Digital Passports blog, I have also now discovered Voki. You create your own avatar and then record your message using a microphone, cell phone, using text to speech, or by uploading an audio file. Certainly, not comparable to the world of Second Life, but it looks like great fun! It also looks like a wonderfully fun way to had some variety and interest to a blog post and other web sites. The text to speech format allowed only a short post, but is worth a try. Wouldn't students find this a novel mehod for sharing what they learned in class? What about having students use i to post questions and respond to others for literature discussions? I think I'll have to have my students brainstorm a list of possible uses next week.

Get a Voki now!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ripples and Hatching Salmon

In a recent post, Jen Wagner, wondered whether she was swimming in the right direction. She most definitely IS. There will always be days when we think our efforts are but a drop in the sea. But Jen's drop and the drops of others like her are inspiration for all of the other salmon (me included) who are trying to swim up stream and make a difference for our students. That's why we are a part of this incredibly supportive edublogger network. Forgive the analogy, but we are cheerleaders for each other. Progress can be hard to see and seem incredibly slow to blossom, but it does. Just this week a first grade teacher asked me how she might connect with her first grade penpal class in Texas. A great question, an opportune (and teachable) moment to get her class connected through videoconferencing. A small drop made a ripple that will continue to ripple beyond our wildest imaginations. Sometimes WE just aren't aware of all of the undulating ripples and hatching baby salmon.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Reforming Mathematics Instruction

Each night that I connect with the edublogger world, I am overwhelmed at the amazing things that are happening in classrooms around the world. Thanks to Steve Dembo at teach42, I read about Dan Meyer, a high school math teacher in Santa Cruz, who shared his unbelievable media rich introductory lesson on graphing for his high school students in a recent post. He says of the lesson, "The total effect only intensified and grew more exciting with each new event. With scaffolding that precise and a visual connection that strong, even my weakest students were drawing eerily accurate graphs."
Throughout this year and continuing into next year, my district is striving to reform our mathematics curriculum and instruction to help students build deeper conceptual understandings. It was just this morning at our faculty meeting, where we were working in small grops discussing critical ways in which our thinking and methods of mathematics instruction would change to better develop students' mathematical understandings. Dan's lesson is definitely an outstanding example to show how it can be done. You can be sure that I will be passing it onto our math teachers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Learning Community

I am currently listening to Women of Web 2.0 who are hosting Steve Dembo tonight. In a recent post on Digital Passports, Steve was asking for responses why teachers commit to an education community such as the Discovery Educator Network and what they gain from it? It is certainly NOT for the 'coupons and clothing'. There is amazing power in a community of passionate and dedicated educators collaborating and sharing their ideas as they strive to be the best educators they can be. I have made connections through the Keystones Integrator Program and the DEN that have opened new worlds and new possibilities for both myself and for my students. The connections I have made are invaluable. Belonging to these virtual and quite real communities means I have my own personal research team, my own learning team, my own class, my own mentors with whom I can learn asyncronously. I can turn to them any day, anytime to receive the latest recommendations and ideas for solving a problem or answers to my questions. They are my inspiration and my support. Together, they show the power of a networks of educators to not only touch the future, but to create the future today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thanks to Chris for this tip for another cartoon-creation site

MAKE BELIEFS COMIX! Online Educational Comic Generator for Kids of All Ages
I like this better than ToonDoo, no potentially offensive Google Ads as well as no cartoons my students should not see.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Good Friday for Cyber-Compliments and Cartoons

My Cyber-Compliment for Cyber-Compliment Day goes to CoolCatTeacher, Vicki Davis, for the tip about While I always read Vicki's blog and truly value her part in my edublogger community, this tip came at especialy the right time for my fourth graders. They have been using a great variety of technology tools to create their own synthesizing, curriculum-connected cartoons which they plan to post on their own "Kids Cartoons Wiki", Ning Network, and web site. They are going to love creating new cartoons using this new site. It truly is a Good Friday! Now, I can hardly wait for Tuesday!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Losing Connectivity

The immaginable happened. Driving home from visiting law schools with my daughter in Washington D.C. I pulled out my laptop to get a little work done. Clicking it on, I was faced with the unexpected - the hard drive breathing a message equivalent to the black screen of death. No config systems program working. I responded with a determined, yet calm sense of determination. Turn it off. Turn it on again. No luck. Calm determination prevailed. Perhaps it was a glitch in the daylight savings patch. Arriving at home, with electrical connectivity, brought no further light on my predicament. Help would have to wait until Monday when I could connect with the technology team and resolve the proble. The evening was earrily quiet, calm, yet lacking in a certain energy. Monday arrived. Logged into the network at school, which I had somehow inflated as a possible solution to the problem. No luck. The black screen of death lived on. The technology support request followed, by the email detailing my concens, by the phone call reaffirming my concerns, resulting in the relinquishing of th my laptop to the technology team for hopeful repair. Over thirty hours have passed. Loss of connection, withdraw, isolation. I am lost without acess to the resources I have gathered, tagged, and saved. I yearn for the connection I have with the community of educators who inspire and encourage me to look to each tomorrow with renewed vigor and hope. Their voices echo in my head. Determination, inspiration, insight, collaboration, shared vision...the power of a network of passionate educators...connected to one another, pushing each other's ideas to new heights and depths. The power of connection is a vital reality. How do we make the connection vital for our students?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reaching Non-Tech Using Educators

As I was casually flipping through my recent copy of NEA Today, I happend upon a reference to a link about podcasting. I've really been thinking that in order to expand the use of technology in schools, we need to continually search for ways to connect with educators who have not fallen under the technology spell. We need to reach them through the venues they use most often. And here was a great example.Then, moments later, I turned to find an article titled Podcasting in the 1600's" There before my eyes was Camilla talking tabout her work with fourth graders and the "Jamestown 400th Anniversary Celebration" podcasts they have created. The kids podcasts are getting up to 400 hits a day! What an awesome project! Way to go Camilla!

Click here for the direct link to the article where you will find PODCASTING 101 – A Nuts & Bolts Guide to Podcasting

Enjoy and pass it on!