Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another super day! I was feeling rested and thinking that I had a couple of areas on which I yet wanted to focus. I am thinking that there are specific teachers, subjects, and students that would be perfect fits for so many of these Web 2.0 tools that I've been exploring. I can see quality learning experiences for students, but not before it happens for the teachers. I feel much more of an obligation now to wade through much of this so that I can offer concrete suggestions to staff. RSS feeds and Social bookmarking was my mountain today. I think I might have ascended about half way. I looked at a number of articles on the feeds and then went back to the Will Richardson book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcast and Other Powerful Webcasts to get a clearer picture of them. I thought that I understood what they're about and I really do and really want them to be something that I use so that I can share with staff and , eventually, with students. I set up RSS feeds from Google Reader, Furl and Bloglines. I intend to use Pageflakes also and then determine which of those I think does more of what I want. Unitl now I have utilized the Davis Drive Middle School Media Center Web Page as the location for users to access weblinks. I can see the RSS feeds as an adjunct to me better utilizing the web page and possibly the social bookmark site as taking the place of some of those weblinks that I locate for research projects. I am still not convinced that is my first choice, but I haven't completely ruled it out.

I think we all felt our own pressure to make even more of our last full day here. We pretty much worked non-stop today---we had been asked to meet at 4:00 this afternoon to give a presentation to the other group and the directors of the Teacher Scholar Program. We'd been told it was relaxed and that's what we needed to hear. As we got closer to that hour, our perfectionistic tendencies were rising to the top and everyone (but me) finalized their contributions to our learningteammiddle wiki for our grand finale. Debbie and Kim did a terrific job at faciltating and introducing our presentation. Everyone else jumped right in to share their contributions/specializations. We were well received by our audience and came away feeling satisfied and downright proud of ourselves!

The group of teachers from Mooresville Graded School District we re the other Teacher Scholar group and they shared their very thorough curriculum linked technology integration plan that they developed to take back to their staff. They are the beneficiaries of a $250,000 grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation for their 21st Century Digital Conversion, in which all of their students within the next two years will receive a laptop compu ter! Their work this week certainly paved the way for their teachers being able to easily incorporate this technology windfall!

Tomorrow we head home after finalizing our project with the Teacher Scholar Program. The ride back will likely be filled with much reflection and discussion on the possibilities we'll be taking back with us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 18, 2008 Still trying

It's been a full day, but I'm not yet ready to call it a day. I managed to get about four hours of sleep after a productive night work session. Went to the workout room for a 30 minute treadmill walk/read. Came back to my room and was met with a doorway full of birthday surprises---Flowers, card, candy, fun trinkets and hand-knitted socks!!! This group is the greatest!!! Of course that made me want to just kick back and do nothing--but only for a minute. I showered and made it back for breakfast (of course!) It's been a comfortable but cloudy day, so it's just as well to be working inside. We all have pretty much made our own agendas today, everyone working at her own comfort level. More webcam purchasers has made for more Skype calls today!!

I've taken some more time with Will Richardson's page and decided I could stay completely occupied the rest of my time with all he had available. He has some thought provoking points listed under "Challenging Times for Eductors". The statement that touched me was a quote "We are entering a time of deeply personalized, passion based learning." (John Seeley Brown) I am beginning to really feel some of that. Up until now I believe that I've been enchanted with all that recent technologies have offered up. But I personally was viewing them with skepticism...and maybe trepidation. They seemed to be just more responsibility to assume. As I am here with the luxury of time to spend exploring these "new-to-me" concepts and am able to read more of the opinions of experts who are using all these tools and skills, I am feeling more inspired to think of all the possibilities that we have to offer to teachers and students.

I've also become convinced that there is a whole new language that goes along with each one of the Web 2.0 resources. I thought education was the king in the acronym department. Web 2.0 rivals us and incorporates lingo that makes me feel absolutely ancient----and that was before I became that year older today! I did want to remind (myself primarily) about a link from Richardson's site that awed several of us.
Wiis as SmartBoards....and yes, I actually do know what a Wii is!!!! What a concept....and a money saver for schools .....if you could really get your hands on that Wii.

Other sites I spent some time with:
Twitter, Pageflakes, Scuttle, Second Life, Meosphere. Some of these are a duplication of concepts here. I'll probably go back and review these a bit more to see if they wouldn't suit my purposes better than the Google bookmarks or That's all for now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

NCCAT Respite

A great group idea that began several months ago is truly underway in the mountains of North Carolina. Our Professional Learning Community of 12 middle school media coordinators determined after one of our meetings in the fall that we really needed more time to inform ourselves on everything about 21st Century Learning. A proposal was submitted to the Teacher Scholar Program at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and was accepted. Eight of us arrived Sunday, March 16 and jumped right in to our self-directed study. It's only Monday (well now that it's 12:46 am I have to say it's Tuesday) and my mind is saturated. We've had non-stop discussions on blogs, wikis, avatars, webcams, Skype, RSS feeds, Voice Threads, and I'm trying to digest it all.

After a pretty full day today in front of a computer trying out some of everything we discussed, I was feeling muddled and downright inadequate. I took some time before dinner for a short hike up the mountain behind our "home" here, managed to not fall, and made it back to our lounge for a little socializing before dinner. A lovely and satisfying meal warranted a walk around the pond and then a few phone calls to family. What should have been the end to my day turned into time for me to reflect on why I was feeling that nothing had been accomplished---I didn't have anything to show for my day of work. I decided that I hadn't taken my usual approach to my day of 'study.' The more I encountered online, the more I found that I didn't know. So to get back to my comfort zone I decided to 'read!' ---you know like paper and ink type reading. I brought a number of "postponed" literature selections. I read over the NC SBE Goals Future-Ready Students for the 21st Century, which helped clarify some of the expectations placed upon us. Then I picked up David Warlick's Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century and skimmed through the first couple of chapters. By that time I was ready to get back to some of the websites we had originally looked at months ago. This evening I took the time to really read through them. I'm not sure how much more proficient I am at this point, but I was better able to digest some of all I read.

I wanted to understand the concept of Web 2.0 that I keep encountering, so I read through a very detailed explanation Web 2.0 suggested by Bob Sprankle in the following