Monday, October 19, 2009

Is Curiosity Valued in Your Classroom?

A curious kitty. Un ejemplo de curiosidad.Image via Wikipedia

I was just reading and viewing a video on Angela Maier's blog about curiosity. I've been thinking alot lately about the qualities that need to be fostered to nurture curiosity in our schools. The toddler who incessantly asks his parents questions. The small child who asks why. Where have these voices gone in our classrooms? There are days when I think we are so focused on programs, structures, and schedules that we have stamped out all opportunities for creativity to blossom.
Yet, we are challenged to help our students be 21st century learners who can think critically, think creatively, solve problems and collaborate. If we are do this, we must rethink the culture of our classrooms. How do you nurture curiosity in your classroom? What do you think needs to change?
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Administrative Support for PLP

Social Networking Tools

Powerful Learning Practice

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Freedom Writers- Erin Gruwell

Thoughts and Ideas to Engage your Imagination and Hope for Change

  • Everyone has a journey and what is inportant is to first discover where it started and then figure out where it is going.
  • Teach to me not to the test.
  • Don't take away your students' hope.
  • Writing makes you immortal.
  • Look for the promise, potential and hope in your students.
  • Envision you students in their lives.
  • It's about teaching to a kid, not teaching to a test.
  • Education was the only way to equal an unfair playing field.
  • If you teach one, they will teach another.

STEM is Not a Four Letter Word

STEM Ed coalition stated that the demand for scientists is going to increase in four fold in the coming years.

STEM literacy refers to an individuals ability to apply his understand of the world around him as appliem to STEM subjects. STEM learning is fundamental to the 21st century workforce.
think holistically process analytically proficient in estimation analysis and systems thinking and dynamics demonstrate expertise in computer based systems and be life long learners.

STEM Pathway Initiative- Portsmouth, Virginia

Identified 3 high demand industries that are clearly articulated through the VA science SOL- biotechnology geospatial techology and modling simulation-robotics. Created an elementary through high school pull-out program in these areas of need in the local area. Embedded in each program is teamwork, desision making, teamwrk, communication, problem solving, reasoning,applied math.

Elementary- All classes attend these four day pull-out programs.

Grade 4 Space Base Atlas- student created Atlas
Using Tom Snyder's Neighborhood Map Machine Software, esri/arcVoyger, Garmin GPS units, Laptop, Promethean

Grade 5 Enviro Camp
Using GLOBE data collection to study atmosphere, water sheds, oyster study
Using, WMM, digital still camera, QX-3 digital microscopes

Grade 6 AeroBase
Building and launching of model rockets using Microsoft Flight Simulator- the rocketry program was based on the program from the Department of Defense (NASA materials) and adapted it for VA standards.

Middle School - Beginning in middle school, students must apply to attend.

Grades 7 Biobase
Students can apply for Biobase- biotech foundation
Expose students to biotechnology particularly forensics by focusing on a mystery that needs to be solved using Gel Electrophoresis, PCR, spectrophotometer, GPS, esri arcGIS, cameraz, Plotter Pointer, Digital Microscope

Grade 8 Robo Base
Focus Modeling and Simulation Students are set up with the problem of opering remotely on a sick astronaut and are challenged to build a model and then use Scratch to simulate its action whiledeveloping team building and decision making Using Lego mindstorm NXT robots, robolab programming software, scratch programming software.

Currently are writing a high school program that will give them a four year pathway of courses to follow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sylvia Martinez: Professional Development 30 Years Later

Thirty years ago ISTE convened NECC with the same questions. What can we do to get people to use We need professinal development to help them get there.
What is the wall where teachers learn and where teacher teach? In workshops, in books, webinars, and yet what actually transfer ovet the wall into the classroom?
Community of Practice Research
The classrom is not a community of practice - how can we change that?
Tech Support
It is not just fixing hardware (all of it email, caeras, computers, and more) Fixing takes away from the time needed to learn. If you are fixing a problem, it is too late. Tech departments are now trying to mix tech support and tech integrators. Tech support is based on controlling and managing the hardware. Tech integrators are asking people to be resk takers, innovators, users of new programs and hardware. If they are working then there should probably be an upswing in the need for tech support.
Models of Professional Development
Using students as practitioners of technology. Teach students how to provide technology support for teachers. Why? Situated in their own classroom, models collaborative learning, allows students to play an important role provides support for technology use outside of formal professional development. Look at GenYES as the example.
The assumption that there is not enough is incorrect.
National Center for educational statistics 2000: Teachers said ther they were going
Stanford research Institiute 2002: 80% failure rate- teachers leaving professional development were leaving unable to implement the learning in their classrooms.
It is not lack of professional development but that the professional development is not working.

Professional Development time internationally happens in the classrooms hours per day. They have a PLN ready to access within their schol.
Online professional development Schlager and Fusco reported that participants were more focused in discussing with their global friends, yet it was not going back to practice in the classroom.
Seymour Pappert - Teachers teach the way they were taught until they SEE something different. Tachers need the kind of activity where they are learning at the same time as the kids and with the kids. The culture of going away to learn something until you are perfect at it and then you can use it in the classrom
Classroom-embedded Professional Development
We need professional developmen in our own classroom, modeled in other classrooms, peer-mentoring/coaching, reverse-mentoring, with experts all around.
It requres a Paradigm Shift- We have to talk about professional development to make it open, celebrate mistakes, collaborative, just-in-time, practice, process, constuctivist, inside the classroom.
Looking at the podcast video of CJ- He shows you all of the skills and the know how of how-to do a podcast. If you have a CJ (and everyone does) then why aren't we using them to teach and help teachers learn to use technology in their teaching.

A club of students headed by a lead teacher. The students are paired with teachers to create specific classroom lessons. The student and teachers plan, design and create. Students also learn collaborative skills to help them interact with their teachers. The research showed that 80-90% of the teachers who worked with the GenYES students said they would change the way they teach in the future. Who can say no to kids wanting to help out?
Teachers helping teachers get things done in their classroom. We don't all need to know everything. We can get help from each other. Develop experts in specific areas who will help others.
Constructivist Professional Development
Walking the walk in your professional development is key. It takes time. You can't magic wand this into your classroom or district. Change desn't come with a checklist, it comes with hard work.
Authentic involvement
Real benefits for students
Adult guidance
Challenge and growth
Cycle of learner empowerment Begins with Empowerment- doing something authentic, and then follows with engagement, independence, responsibility, and trust.

Bob Kolvoord on Google Spatial Technologies

Ever notice how people sit in rooms? We have the west coast (with outlets) and the east coast- a little more populated with quite a space/ocean in between.

The Case for Spatial Thinking
Recent national academy report learning to think spatially identified the need to help our students with this skill.
Spatial thinking is an ability to visualize and interpret location, distance, direction relationships, movement and change over space. (Sinton, 2009) We think in space all the time in our daily activities- where we are going, want to put things, find our way. We also think about space (science and geography) plate tectonics, cultural regions. We think with space (representations) periodic table of the elements
Issues and Areas
Key issues our students are facing- environmental issues- global climate change, global competition and the economy, transportation, sustainability , terrorism, nuclear war, water use and almost all of them rely on spatial geography. The two areas we rely on to teach those skills are earth and space science and geography that have minimal emphasis.
An Important Distinction
The ability to Visualize - show you stuff and Analyze- critically thinking about the data

Google Earth
You can go to a particular place and choose your view- bird's eye view or street view. Somewhere the ages of 10 and 12 students will develop the ability to conceptualize the bird's eye view. You can also stream real time data such as earthquake activity. Great way to visualize the patterns of earthquakes. But is doesn't allow you the ability to analyze them- count the number, compare the intensity. Offers the opportunity to go into the past, taking historical documents and laying them in their place. Allows you to make your own maps and trips. More and more things in the future are going to be location based with the ability to use GPS and the ability to find you and beam you information.
GIS- Geographic Information Systems
AEJEE - entry point into the GIS world- available and free for the Mac and PC with a growing catalog of activities.
ArcGIS is the professional tool which facilitates in-depth work available on the PC only. VA has a state-wide license.

Example - Elementary level activity
It is about making maps to ask and answer questions.
GIS is where the world of maps meets the world of databases. You can select a field to use to display on the map- such as the median age of each state population. Then ask a question- which states are younger? A hypothesis is formulated and then the map is displayed. According to the data- Utah is the one state comparatively with the lowest median age. Then we can ask further- why is that happening? You can put this software in front of fourth graders and they can make it hum. The challenge is getting them to think about what it means.
Example - Creating Maps with Lines of Longitude and Latitude
They can construct a map themselves putting the lines on the map themselves. The students can query the map- which cities have longitides greater than 0? Using spatial displays to think about space.
Example: Explore data about watersheds
GIS is about making layered maps. You can change the order of layers- turn them on and off starting with simpler maps. It is like rock, paper and scissors. What layers can do is cover other layers. Layer of water sheds covers the entire US while the layer of drainage systems can go on top allowing the watershed layer to still be visible.
Example with Election Results
Example Use of energy and production
Students are asked to analyze energy production and consumption- in 1984 the US was the largest oil producer in the world but we were also the largest consumers using 50% of what we producers. . Using the map layers, we can see that in the last 20years, our production has dropped when our use is 300% more than our production.

It's all about-
Building maps, understanding ther place in the world and asking questions about it.

GIS takes the map from Google Earth and allows you to sort, count, do statistics, makemeaning about the data, look for patterns.

Bricks and Mortar Classrooms?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Are You Feeding Yourself?

PLN-2Image by cobannon via Flickr

I was asked to write an article for a coach workshop about personal learning networks and their ability to support those who may be the pioneers and trailblazers in their schools. Hopefully, this will also help you in supporting others just beginning their journey.

Are you feeling hungry for support?
As a coach you are continually giving of yourself. You provide support to other teachers, teach them new tools, and help them integrate them into teaching and student learning. While your job can be exhilarating, it also can be exhausting. When you constantly give so much to others, that full cup of enthusiasm, energy, and new ideas can quickly become empty.
While many are turning to you to support them in their new learning, to whom do you turn to support yourself in your new learning? Take charge of feeding yourself by building your own personal learning network using online tools.

Which of items from this smorgasbord of choices are on your personal learning network plate?
Twitter or Plurk
• Reading Blogs
• Educator Networks like Classroom2.0
Educational Broadcasts
Educational Videos
Streaming Video
Discussion Groups

Joining is step one in developing a personal learning network. Step two is participation. Put yourself out there for others to see and hear. Write your own blog. Create your own podcasts and videos. Step three is connecting with others. Recheck that list again. How much do you really connect with others using those tools? If you read an interesting blog post, leave a comment. If you listen to a thought-provoking broadcast, enter into the conversation. If someone tweets a question, answer it. Over time, these interactions will help you build relationships with fellow educators across the globe. Then when you make a request for help or information, you will have a community of like-minded people who will respond in favor.
Remember, whatever tool you choose, building a personal learning network requires joining, participating, and making connections. Do this and you will find you have a pantry full of help and support ready for any occasion.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Not On the Test

Test takersImage by hyperscholar via Flickr

For teachers out there who are feeling the crunch of test crazed days ahead, this lullaby written for students by om Chapin posted on NPR may just be what is needed to bring a smile to your face.
For students out there who may be stressed out, here's a lullaby for our times. "Not on the Test" was written by John Forster and Tom Chapin. It is performed by Tom Chapin.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

World Math Day 2009

I just learned about Wold Math Day. World Math Day falls on March 4th this year. Students aged 5 to 18 can take part and whole classes can also register for the online math questions and fun! Students play against each other in mental arithmetic games. They play in real time with students from all over the world. Each game lasts for 60 seconds and they can play as many games as they wish. The questions are appropriately leveled for different ages and abilities. Be sure to register early to be a part of World Math Day this year.
An additional challenge for World Math Day is the TeacherTube Video Contest. Just record a two to three minute video highlighting how your students are preparing for World Math Day and you will have a chance to win great prizes. But hurry, the deadline for submitting your video is February 20. Watch the video below to learn more!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What Kinds of Writing Do You Do Everyday?

writing...Image by © dabawenya © (who's ready for a hunt?) via Flickr

Take Part in NCTE's National Day on Writing
October 20, 2009

Writing is a daily practice for millions of Americans. But few notice how integral writing has become to daily life in the 21st century.

To draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft, NCTE is working to establish October 20, 2009, as the National Day on Writing.

To celebrate composition in all its forms, we are inviting diverse participants --students, teachers, parents, grandparents, service and industrial workers, managers, business owners, legislators, retirees and many more -- to submit a piece of writing to the National Gallery of Writing.

The National Gallery will be a digital archive of samples that exhibit how and why Americans are writing every day, accessible to all through a free, searchable website. Writers’ pieces will be accompanied by

* brief descriptive entries (meta-data) describing who the writer is,
* the genre of writing represented, and
* why s/he selected this particular piece to submit to the Gallery.

They will build the archive of writing submissions in the Gallery throughout 2009, before sharing it with the nation on the National Day on Writing. So now is the time to get thinking about how you will involve your students, teachers, and community in this project.

Will you participate in The National Day on Writing?

View Results
Web Poll from Free Website Polls
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Monday, February 09, 2009

Technology Staff Development that Works

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who Do You Follow?

Well, this is a fun Twitter app tweeted by njtechteacher today.
Just enter your Twitter name and get a mosaic of followers from first to last with images. Just hover over their picture and you see their Twitter name and a link to their Twitter page.

Who do you recognize here?