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.