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Saturday, March 26, 2011

We're HEEEEEEEERE! Podcamp Nashville 2011

(I would end up ditching at lunchtime, but it was an event full of potential and learning, so I kept the liveblog up whilst I dealt with other things, real life, family obligations. I'll go through it tomorrow and explore some of the shared links. As you read my comments, consider that I'm serious about the education thread (not that there really _are_ threads in this "unconference," and will look into how I might help with that next year!)

From Podcamp Nashville 2011, LiveBlog:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Virtual Learning Student Asks U.S. Office of Educational Technology...

...Two Questions

I was greatly pleased to be present at the recent SITE (Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education) Conference here in Nashville as my dear friend Kecia Ray (and also my boss, in her role as MNPS Executive Director of Instructional Technology) and our student Taylor Grantham sat in on "A Conversation with Karen Cator." Along with them were two other educators, one from Wisconsin and one from Denmark.

It was a stellar hour, and I left with heightened appreciation for the work Ms. Cator is doing and also with something else--video! Filmed by colleague and pal Norman Merrifield, it serves as a reminder of just how good media can be when you enlist a professional videographer who wields professional gear. I'm posting the following videos, each a question from Miss Grantham and an answer from Ms. Cator!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Adam Taylor is a Two Foot Giraffe

Teacher Blog: Using Twitter to connect students around the world
Adam Taylor
Adam Taylor
Here in the MNPS Communications Office we don't play favorites. But we're quite fond of Overton High School teacher-innovator Adam Taylor.

Adam is a Teacher of the Year Finalist who never stops looking for ways to engage his students. Lucky for them, he's a self-professed technology nerd who has been using social media and mobile devices to increase class participation and even hold classes and lectures after school hours and on snow days!

Adam runs his own blog where he shares his techniques and best practices with educators around the world. Here on Children First!, we will occasionally repost his stories in order to help share his innovations with the community.

This week's entry shows just how far his social media reach has taken him. Adam and his class have held two class-to-class meetings with students in Pakistan - over Twitter. Each class gets the chance to find out what classroom life is like on the other side of the planet. Below is Adam's account of these meetings and how they came to be.

In October of 2010 someone suggested making a list of educators willing to have class to class online Twitter discussions. So I put out a survey to my Twitter educator colleagues to see if any of them would be interested in having online discussions with students. In a relatively short amount of time we had a couple of dozen on the list.

Immediately, I scanned the list to see where the different educators were from. Most were from the US but there were a couple form Canada and the UK. Then I saw one from Pakistan and Serbia. So I sent her a message and waited.

For those who misunderstand Twitter, it is so much more than checking to see what a celebrity ate for breakfast. Twitter is an awesome way to connect with thousands of educators across the world. We are constantly sharing ideas, web sites, articles, policies, and many other tools. For me, it has been the most valuable professional development tool ever!

While trying to connect with Katherine Maloney in Pakistan, I was able to connect with Mr. Akerson from St. Louis. Mr. Akerson and I were able to get our students connected. He is a junior high/middle school teacher. His students do not have Twitter accounts, so to participate in the discussion his students took turns using his computer to answer and ask questions. My students (at Overton High School) all have Twitter accounts and were having a blast talking with the younger kids. The discussion was about life in high school. The conversation went really well. The students were mature and polite.

I later came in contact with Jesse Moland, an educator in Baton Rouge, LA. We decided to have the discussion using an online application called Today's Meet. It is a microblog/chatroom site that allows you to make a chat room with a specific URL to share with all those who want to chat. Individuals simply go to the URL, type their name in the box, and click join to get in. This is a great tool because it updates quickly, and the chat can be archived by copy and pasting it into a document.

Unfortunately because of snow day conflicts we were unable to have the discussion with Mr. Moland’s students. We hope to reschedule in the next couple of weeks.

Finally, Katherine Maloney (teacher in Pakistan) and I were able to work out a discussion time. In fact, the first discussion was three days ago. The topic voted on by students was “student voice and say in the school.” Because the Lahore American School in Pakistan is 11 hours ahead of us, my students came in early that morning before school to have the discussion. As a result of the time change one class would need to be at computers outside of class time.

Katherine asked if we could have another discussion two days later during her school’s technology open house. For the second discussion, we decided to address cultural stereotypes. The principal of the school and a parent also participated in the conversation. It was really cool to see the excitement in my students as they were able to have a discussion online with students on the other side of the planet.

I can see this project going a long way to helping my students understand different parts of our country and the world. With the right online tools students are not limited to learning from a book or the teacher in the room. The world and the people living on it become the classroom and the teacher.

To learn more about Adam and his classroom you can read his blog, 2FootGiraffe. You can also follow him on Twitter (@2footgiraffe). Thanks for the post, Adam!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Son to the Boy Interview

My dear brother-from-another-mother Jimmy Morrison (he's one of the only people left who call me Scotty), mostly known as James, was featured in an interview at LA Canvas blog, and I think you should read it. The last line is something that goes a long way toward explaining why artists make art:

Interviewer Jacob Rohn asked him:
"JR:  What is your ultimate goal?
 He answered:
"JM:  Any kind of music has to be supported by playing live.  I’m working to put a band together and play a few shows.  But ultimately, music lives inside you, it’s up to you, the artist, the make sure that it doesn’t die inside you, cause just like anything else you can’t take it with you."
My dear departed daddy used to sum it up this way:
"Ain't no pockets in them shrouds." 
...although I must say he was talking more about his inability to save money and his great talent at spending it, whether it be on his family or his mistress of 20 years, than about creating art. But that's another story. This one, especially the public statement of my godson Seamus's victory over brain cancer, is well worth a read, and the music it describes is indescribably beautiful. Of course I'm most fond of "Lifeguard Girl," with the airy and mellifluous addition of my lovely daughter Miranda's voice weaving through its wry lyric so perfectly that Jimmy ended his recording with an instrumental version of the song as respite, replete with Miranda's voice as instrument. Go get it all at CDBaby or iTunes. Now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

SITEslides 030811 Merrick

Here's the slides I may share on today's panel at SITE in Nashville, assuming I get the chance. If I don't get the chance, here's the slides I would've shared.

I'll add some notes after the fact just to make the online archive a bit more valuable to others. Until then, use your imagination.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Movies

I can't believe this has been online for two years and I just encountered it. Truly, as James Gleick says in this recent Wired Magazine article, the basis of the universe is data, and no one can know it all. Here's a little movie for you all:


Gus by Scott Gardner Merrick  I wear these navy slacks I found behind O'Shaugnessy's, in the dumpster there. And they'r...