• CLMS / CLHS Conference Published 2006-11-19 under

    I am in beautiful Monterey, CA attending "Teaching The Millennial Generation" conference. My session, "Online Collaboration Tools" is over so I could spend the day enjoying the presentations. David Warlick was the keynote speaker for the conference. I have heard David speak on numerous occasions, listen to his podcasts and the day outside was absolutely beautiful. Despite all of these reasons to be tempted to skip the keynote, I found myself in attendance.

    While there were one or two new things that I got from David's presentation, I was more impressed with the storytelling as much as the story. His style is captivating and I think that this is as important as any bullet point from his slides. David points out that one of the most important leadership skills is the ability to tell a story.

    I attended a session later in the day on developing videos for online teacher training. I went with a single question - how do you get content experts to create compelling and engaging scripts, stories? The presenter glossed over the question (several times) by saying that it is not difficult to get a subject expert to create a script. While he wanted to focus on issues such as online follow-up assessments, I feel he missed the point - the craft is in the telling of the story.

    It has not been my experience that it is easy to develop content packaged in a compelling story. Dave Warlick's gift is his ability to package his ideas into a story and deliver it in an engaging fashion. This is an important skill that we need to be teaching our kids.

    ... Bringing me to Digital Storytelling - a topic that was conspicuously missing in the program (actually there was one session on it that I missed). There were sessions on how to find free multimedia on the web, how to use PowerPoint to replace your poster board projects, and even how to edit photos using Google's Picasa. But the focus was on the technology, not the story, not the storytelling. I am excited about one digital storytelling tool that Bob Fishtrom introduced - Photo Story 3 - which gives PC users the ability to easily create a digital story. This is a free download from Microsoft for users of XP.

    I attended Chris Walsh's session on the Google Universe to see what is new since his presentation at CUE back in March. The change in the name of his presentation says it all - the presentation used to be Google World. Google is taking over, not just the world now, but the universe. Chris goes through just a few of the ever growing list of services that Google has to offer. The one that I had not heard of and that Chris highlighted in an Infinite Thinking Machine video played prior to the start of the session was SketchUp, a 3-D modeling software (PC and Mac). The personal addition is free - wow! But the real meat of Chris' presentation was about accessing information, whether it be using one of Google's special search features or searching from your phone using SMS. Where is the benefit to learning? Chris asked how we might incorporate these services into our curriculum and the answers he got back were not great. In fact, Chris said that he is still trying to find the "killer" use for the SMS feature in education.

    The point is we now live in an age where accessing the information is no longer an issue. What we do with it is the important part. This was one of David's main points in his keynote. Google is making access to information ubiquitous. We need to now teach our kids to view the information with a critical eye filtering out the irrelevant or inaccurate information and draw connections between other bits of information. This critical thinking has always been a goal in education, but it is made easier when the information is so accessible.

    From the perspective of both a presenter and an attendee, one hour "breakout sessions" are not long enough to really get into the meat of the issues. I commend the organizers of this conference as they had several 2 1/2 hour sessions - most were in labs - where we could really learn. As an example, Amy Murphy had her class podcasting, not just listening to an overview of the subject.

    Monterey is a beautiful place and despite the natural beauty outside, I am glad that I spent the day at this well run conference.

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  • Importance of the Arts in Education Published 2006-11-07

    I was raised to believe that any education requires more than Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. I remember licking stamps and stuffing envelops with my parents as they helped a school board candidate who campaigned on the platform of fighting the fundamentalist movement in our local school district. I also remember those election nights seeing our candidate lose and enduring the restrictive curriculum that followed.

    It seems appropriate that on this election day that I revisit the idea that education is more than just learning facts or the basic skills.

    This morning I stumbled on a speech about "The Role of Creativity and the Arts in 21st-Century Education" from Stanford University - April 2006. I am a great fan of including "creativity" as one of the basic principle to be included in any education.

    What I find so interesting in this article is that Stanford not only recognizes the importance of the Arts in teaching / fostering creativity but also the importance of creativity beyond the Arts.

    The arts can help us break out of traditional patterns of thinking and adopt fresh approaches to intellectual experiences. Discontinuous innovations require novel thinking and breakthroughs in how a particular problem or challenge is approached. I believe the arts offer an expanded tool set for learning and understanding that can enhance creative thinking skills. But this will also require facilitating more cross-disciplinary collaboration between the arts and other fields.

    As I head out to my polling place, I don't have a candidate for whom I have licked stamps and stuffed envelops. But the issues of the 70s and 80s remain. What do we value in our education system? For my money, creativity must be high on the list.

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  • How Do You Collaborate? Published 2006-11-02 under

    I am excited to be speaking at this year's CLMS/CLHS/NHSA/CUE conference in Monterey, CA titled "Teaching the Millennial Generation: Technology Tools that Transform the Learning Experience".  I will be speaking about online collaboration tools such as wikis, writeboards, and Office-like tools.

    I am interested in your experiences in collaboration and what you find to work in your classrooms.  What do you use to collaborate?  Do you have your students use collaboration tools to do group projects?  What is important to you in a tool? Reliability, ease-of-use, features, notifications, use statistics?

    Let me know if you are planning on attending the conference and whether you have any specific questions about collaborative tools. 

    Thanks and See you in Monterey!

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