Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Discovery Education Network, NY DEN

Attention TEAM Members,

Last Friday afternoon, I attended an exciting event with the NY DEN. In case you've never heard of the DEN before, this is for you:

The Discovery Educator Network (DEN) is a global community of educators passionate about teaching with digital media, sharing resources, collaborating, and networking. With over 25,000 members providing professional development to over 250,000 educators worldwide, the DEN connects teachers both on-line and in-person. Discovery Educators have exclusive access to a wide range of resources, professional development activities, networking opportunities, exclusive Discovery Educator events and more!

The DEN is affiliated with United Streaming, a great online media source for teachers. United Streaming a super tool for teachers who have SmartBoards in their classroom. The students enjoy watching the online educational movies on the virtual SmartBoard hearth, and as a teacher, I love the content and other digital resource including: audio, images and text.

There are many perks to joining the DEN. There are more perks if you become a DEN Star Educator. One of the perks was being invited to attend a DEN event last Friday that included an IMAX movie and dinner. Visit the NY DEN blog to see the pictures.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tech Forum New York

Yesterday, I spent the day at Tech Forum New York, at the IBM Palisades Executive Conference Center . The conference was established by Technology & Learning Magazine. IT WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST CONFERENCES I'VE EVER ATTENDED! This conference exceeded my expectations!

I attended the conference with my co-teacher, Lisa Parisi. We love using technology in our 5th grade inclusion classroom, the South Paris Collaborative and we were very excited just to be in the presence of tech gurus such as Alan November, David Jakes , Steve Dembo and Ryan Bretag. To our surprise and Lisa's outgoing personality, we actually ended up connecting with each one of them. It was f2f networking at its finest.

Alan November was the keynote presenter. If you haven't seen Alan, go see him. He is an interesting speaker. The part of his preso that surprised me the most, was when he polled the audience about which educators were giving students the creative license to use technology in their classrooms. Lisa and I were only two of few who were raising their hands. (We were, the teachnology minorities in the room, at a TECHNOLOGY conference! Go figure!)

Not surprisingly, technology played an important role at this conference. However, the technology I'm talking about, didn't have anything to do with the presentations; it was all back chatter and social networking. People were tweeting away on Twitter. Lisa was streaming live on UStream , and there was a lot of action in the UStream chatroom from people all over the world! In addition, Lisa and I started taking conference notes through a shared Google doc that we created. When we found our twitter friend, PJ in person at the conference, we invited him in too. Ultimately, we had so much information being shared between the twits, google docs, and UStream conference chatter, Lisa took the initiative to create a wiki for the conference in wikispaces. Follow this link to the TechForumNY wiki, where you can access UStream footage from the conference and read through the chat.

David Jakes was another presenter at the conference and he was FABULOUS! He presented two breakout sessions that Lisa and I attended on Digital Storytelling 2.0 and 21st Century Cartography. David shared a wealth of information on digital storytelling and a number of ways that teachers could use the GoogleMaps & GoogleEarth in their classrooms. He has inspired us to revamp many of our upcoming projects because of all the information that he shared. We can't wait to show him the end results. Thanks again David. It was great meeting you!

Another unique opportunity that presented itself during the conference were the breakout round table discussions. For approximately 45 minutes, I met with various educators (teachers, principals, IT staff, etc.) to discuss Technology and Special Education. We had some interesting conversations about the lack of technology in some districts compared to how teachers utilized the technology when they had access to the tools. While a Google document was shared between all the participants, I hope the conversation will continue on the Inclusion Revolution Ning that I created.

All in all, in alliance with the goals of the conference posted on the TechForum site, I most definitely gained a a year's worth of insight and empowerment in one day. I had a wonderful lunch with a new network of friends in a productive yet casual setting. My new pals include David Jakes , Steve Dembo, Ryan Bretag, Gwen Solomon, PJHiggins, and David Gorecki. Together, we explored groundbreaking education technology solutions through great discussions online and off. We listened and learned from each other, a group of renowned K-12 technology experts, innovators and educators.

Nassau BOCES - Technology Summit

Greetings Edufriends,

On October 15th, 2007, I attended the Nassau BOCES - Technology Summit at the Hilton Long Island, in Huntington. The conference focused on using technology to develop 21st century learners, providing strategies for teaching students to use technology to learn content and skills so that students can engage in: knowing how to learn, thinking critically, solving problems, using information, communicating, innovating and collaborating. Does this sound like your classroom?

We live in what is quickly becoming a digital world and as teachers we need to prepare ourselves for our 21st Century digital learners. We're teaching in a teachnology revolution and it is important to keep up with what is new in technology and Web 2.0. Right now, students could be blogging, collaborating on wikis, or connecting globally through audio/visual communication. Many students are using these web tools at home, and we as teachers should not expect our students to power down or unplug once they're at school. Engaging students improves a teachers ability to maintain student interest, facilitate learning and to improve classroom management.

The two keynote speakers were David Warlick and Karen Cator.

Resources for TEAM:
David Warlicks 2 Cents Worth
Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Graphic Organizer Queen - Mind Mapping Evaluations

As a special education teacher I am always looking for new ways to brainstorm and organize information for all of the students in my class. This is how I earned my title as the Graphic Organizer Queen in the South Paris Collaborative. I believe that learning how to brainstorm and map out information helps all students to make connections and scaffold on prior learning. It was because of my passion for graphic organizers that I welcomed the opportunity to evaluate some offline and online mapping tools.

The first program I didn't truly evaluate was Inspiration. "Why didn't you evaluate it?" you ask. I didn't evaluate it because it is a program that I already use at school with my students. It is mapping program that is student and teacher friendly. The students are comfortable with the program because it is taught in our computer classes and it is readily accessible on all of our school desktops and laptops at school for in-class use. There are no login issues, the clipart is grade school appropriate and the skill of mapping within the program is easy.

While I enjoyed playing with the remainder of online applications, I did not find them appropriate substitutes for the elementary students that I work with. First of all, you need an e-mail address and login skills to access these programs. Another issue was that some of the programs required a flash download or upgrade. Lastly, these programs are free, so some sites automatically made your brainstorming available for public viewing, others gave you limited access to all of the functions, and many only provided you with a few free organizers until you decide to pay for their services.

I did, however, find these online mind-mapping sites an interesting way to collaborate with my grown-up peers. My favorite online mapping tool was Mindomo. The site was professional looking, my brainstorming ideas were easily filed and the icons for creating a mindmap were very user-friendly. Despite these perks, I was sad to discover that I was not able to edit the document in real time at the same time as my TEAM team. Looking at the upgraded version, only $6 a month, the list of perks did not mention this important feature. That makes me unhappy.

The other tools I assessed were:

  • basic icons/tools
  • no font changes
  • help movie included text: "Screenshots Suck" - not appropriate for el. ed. students
  • diagram was immediately available for public viewing
  • lots of applications
    • floor plans, flow charts, etc.
  • icons were very small
  • time consuming to establish account (waiting for confirmation e-mail to arrive)

Brainstorm in real life with your students by using these
Graphic Organizer Resources & Printables
Houghton Mifflin Company - Graphic Organizer Pdfs
Eduplace - Graphic Organizer Pdfs
TeacherVision Graphic Organizer Printables

Sunday, October 7, 2007

FYI - K12 Online Conference

In case you didn't know, the K12 Online Conference keynote is going to take place tomorrow @ 8:00 am, New York time. David Warlick is the Keynote Speaker.

If you've never attended, please visit the First Time Attendee section of their wiki.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Windows Movie Maker

I attended my first EVV Workshop this past Saturday at the CW Post Campus. The focus of the course was how to create and edit movies in Windows Movie Maker on a PC. While the practice movie [music video] that I made was not educationally based, I do believe that the Movie Maker application has great potential both for teachers and students in the elementary classroom.

Here are some Movie Maker ideas we've accomplished/discussed in our 5th grade classroom:
  • Act out the plot of a book
    • Students are responsible for script, clothing, settings and props
      • Some of our students created settings/backgrounds by drawing them in the pages of the SmartBoard notebook software before we videotaped
  • Use student writing to create unique videos
    • Plays
    • Puppet Shows
    • Claymation
    • Drawings/Cartooning
  • Create Vodcasts about:
    • Classroom News
    • Current Events
    • How to Videos (Math Skills, Study Skills, Etc.)
    • Mock or Real Interviews
      • Interwrite Learning Video Contest
        • Show everyone your classroom’s talent and technology in this video contest! Your song-parody video could be your school’s ticket to fame and $15,000 in interactive classroom technology, plus hundreds of lesson plans and other content—an Interactive Makeover™

Here are some ideas/uses for Movie Maker that I found online:

FYI - Movie Maker Tutorials

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Consume, Contribute, Collaborate

Inspired by Nancy Sharoff's blog post Web-Cubed, I'm inspired to think about web 2.0 in a whole new light. During this technology revolution in history, our once READ/WRITE web is constantly transforming and growing in leaps and bounds. Its now a space where web-heads are not only able to consume information, but they can contribute and collaborate in real time on a flat, global playing field.

I consume a lot of online information daily. Between my three e-mail accounts, rss feeds, and the sites I choose to visit; new information is always here or there for me to consume, evaluate and process. I am, however, not limited to oohs and ahs witnessed by the many computer screens in my life. I can venture out and respond in an unlimited amount of ways. An e-mail response, a tweet to twits, a blog comment or new post, a podcast, or a video confession on YouTube or Teacher Tube. All of these places provide me with a space to vent, whether or not anyone is listening. However, if you feel a connection, we can always commiserate or celebrate together! E-mail me, send me a tweet, leave a comment on my blog, invite me to Skype or Second Life, or let's chat in Google. The possibilities are endless!

Let's collaborate together and expand on the virtual space that is our world wide web; web cubed!