Sunday, July 26, 2009

"The First Annual Lee Baber Jamboree – Win a community" post by Dave Cormier

This is my Response to

"The First Annual Lee Baber Jamboree – Win a community." by Dave Cormier

It's been a while but, I think we way may have something for you folks. As part of k12 Online Conference for 2009 we (k12online conveners and friends) are having a Pre-Conference virtual LAN party. Why not combine two cool events and offer the Best of K12onlineconference to coincide with the Lee Baber Jamboree? So, this is the plan: We are going to host a virtual LAN party at EdTechTalk on Saturday September 26, 2009. We will start on or about 14:00 GMT and go on for about 8 hours. In our webcasting studios we will be featuring the best of K12Online from years past 2006-08. As part of this event we will be dedicating one hour.. perhaps in the middle or maybe to culminate the event to the Best of Lee Baber. and to piggyback on Dave Comier's idea of win a community, we wil be announcing the 1st honarary winner of this event. I know everything sounds a bit sketchy.. to start out join us this next Thursday at 6pm Pacific / 9pm Eastern on Edtech Brainstorm at Where we will give more details.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

“Tinkering Toward Utopia” - Post by Will Richardson

This is my response to “Tinkering Toward Utopia” by Will Richardson.

I've been trying to frame my mind around school reform for quiet some time. This is especially true after spending some time out of the classroom. I do agree that there has to be a fundamental shift on how we look at change for our schools. This whole idea that schools can shift towards being more of social systems and learning organizations. Rather than being bureaucracies and operating systems. Will change come from innovations? Sure, as long as we (teachers) are comfortable in learning and relearning with those we network face to face and on the web. But, more importantly model and mentor our own students in this process. For me there needs to be a change in the way I seek professional development. It cannot only be the prepacked deal I get from meeting at my school or local district. It needs to be a blended approach where I take my local school or grade focus and what I learn with my network on the web and construct what I need to do with my students. As far as reform/transformation, it's all about making this a reality for myself and then helping others (teachers at my school and district) come along with me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Crowdsourcing - An Educational Experiment in L.A.

This is a response to

Save Our Summer Project Coming July 6

a project by group of students at USC. The objective as described at on the site is to provide free, online learning solution to the cancellation of K-8 summer school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.


* Crowdsource the tagging of resources
* Host on Free online aggregation site
* Offer some tools for dialogue.

To play:

  • Find a resource and tag it: sosclassroom
  • send the resource to sosclassroom[at]
  • tweet us @sosclassroom or #sosclassroom
Crowdsourcing NOW on my summer reading list. I tend to do this all the time as I go on to twitter and find resources for my own learning. But crowdsourcing in the business model refers to replacing a function that is usually paid for by tapping into collective knowledge. Now this IS something I can dig into. Looking specifically at our situation in L.A. it's interesting to find a tech solution to our budget woes.

This is my response to this novel experiment:

Hey congrats on "crowdsourcing"! Now that you have the crowds attention (me) let's see if we can get some work done. Let's start by defining who "we" are. "Our class at USC" what class? and are you speaking for the class or is it YOU and a few interested folk? I DO see how the your site works and it's a great concept. How do we bridge the concept to making it a practice? If the intended audience is LAUSD teachers to gather resources and LAUSD families in comsuming these resources then what is the plan? I'm comitted to a sustained effort and partnership between classroom teacher, the families we service, and interested community like yourself. I invite you to continue the conversation.

Why Technology Post by Bud Hunt

This is my response to

The Bud the Teacher Podcast: Why Technology

Why technology? Well, because. As I articulate my thoughts I think that technology is not about the tool. Rather, it’s our way of processing what we learn. Perhaps I find that technology allows for learning in different ways and archives this learning in a more permanent way. It’s not only about digitizing the content but about producing content where the line between being a teacher and a student is blurred.

NECC is about Convesations Post by Jeff Utecth

This is my response to

NECC is about conversations

I find your take on NECC and it being about conversations interesting and tend to agree to the most part. I found a similar experience when I have gone to our local state conference in California CUE. I did quite a bit of learning via connecting with others in the hallways and through conversation. At least for a certain group (those already connected with the content on the web via twitter, blogs, etc) These conversations are a lot more valuable than sitting through a repackaged presentation you can probably find elsewhere.

Now, how would this look in our classrooms? That’s a bit more complicated. We are teaching in a very hostile environment. We are required to “teach” a prescribed curriculum and when our evaluators walk into our classroom they are looking for directed lessons, students under control. But even with this as a requirement I DID find myself going outside the box and allowing MY students to engage in conversation around learning. I still have a long way to go but as I am reminded by fellow elementary school teacher Brian Crosby “Learning is Messy” and it’s just fine by me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

LA Hungry for Education: The Struggle Continues

I thought I was winding down for the school year. Literacy week at my school gave me an opportunity to do some last minute tech projects with my students, a few voicetreads, some video, and blogging. All I needed was wrap up with paperwork and I was off on summer vacation and back to my online projects. And then... I found myself in the middle of a debate on the future of public education and it was in my own backyard. I really hadn't given much thought to what was happening with the budget crisis in California and it's effect on our local schools.

As I browsed my twitter feed I came across lahungry4ed. I had heard about Los Angeles teachers protesting the cuts and job losses through the local media on the weekend. Now this was interesting, it wasn't the teachers union, UTLA. These were individual teachers bringing together a coalition of teachers, parents, and community activists. Their efforts are to bring attention to what's happening with LAUSD and to pressure the school board to save teacher jobs. Their actions have included campouts at school sites and also a hunger strike by a few teachers.

I asked myself what I could do? I decided to reach out to my network on EdTechTalk. I wanted to learn more about the issues but more importantly to document and share with others. As we interviewed onsite I began to understand that this was more than a simple budget problem. As Sean Leys frames it "as a civil rights issue." The actions by our State Government and our local school board are part of a bigger picture. There has been an assault on public education and inner city schools. It goes back to the whole premis of NCLB and punishing schools that are not making the grade.

It is interesting to note how the organizers of this effort have used social media in getting the word out through their netvibes page, by the use of hash tags on twitter, by press releases through tinypaste, pictures on picassa web, facebook group and interacting with media both on the web and local print, television, and radio stations. This organizational structure makes this grassroot movement easier to have sustainability beyond the events of the campouts and the hunger strike itself. So, as I go into my last week of teaching for the 2008-09 school year, I find myself engaged and committed to be part of the struggle.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

PODCAST - CLMS 2009 Skype for Educators

This is a recording of my presentation at California League of Middle Schools CLMS on Saturday March 14th, 2009. This is an introduction to use of Skype in Education. You can find the presentation wiki at Special thanks to Dr. Wagner for his invitation and connecting educators in the use of technology all over California. I added a page to wiki for CLMS conference attendees to leave contact details for Skype collaborative projects. Have a listen SkypeForEducators.mp3

Thursday, March 5, 2009

EdubloggerCon West - TakeAways

So, it's the day after and on my commute into another busy day.

My takeaways:
1. I came with an expectation of what Edublogercon West 2009 would be and I was really pleased. It still amazes me that you can have an opportunity to participate in event like this (an unconference where you decide what is going to be talked about and you can know that your voice will be heard) and most educators are still unaware, don't see the importance, or just plain don't care.

2. When I look at professional development and everything that is spoon fed to us, Edubloggercon West was such a rewarding experience. There are a few things that I already do. What the unconference did for me was to give me validation, knowing that I am not alone. Also, what others are doing as in the cool things but more importantly how they keep going.

3.Next Steps This is critical; I can be happy, I can say how good the food was (Alice had great snacks) and I CAN go back an do NOTHING. Sure I can, I've done it before. My next steps is to walk into my classroom and infect my students with this bug.. the learning for life bug, the go out and network bug, the share what you are doing and bring it back to those around you bug. My next steps does include my continual quest to "think globally and act locally"

Have a listen to my reflections as I take my 10minute walk to tomorrow. WoodenNickelz Podcast

Monday, February 23, 2009

Self Directed Learning

Sometimes it's hard to practice what you preach. I wanted to share my experience this weekend participating in ED21 Unconference. I spent spent Saturday morning enjoying some very inspiring conversations centered around 21st Century nnovation and education. The different strands presented included 21st Century; learning, teaching, real world, and leading. I was able to help out in connecting the conference with the edtechtalk community through broadcasting the conference live on and was engaged in the chat with both onsite participants and virtual attendees. Here is a link to the recordings

My thoughts about 21st Century innovation and education are; learning starts with me. If I am able to continue to be a life long learner, I am able to model this for my students. I have to understand that my students are learning in a new type of environment and I must constantly evaluate my own teaching and adapt to all the changes and at the same time practice good teaching. In regards to the real world, well I have to prepare my students to participate/collaborate in this new millennium. And finally in leading, Web 2.0 does truly level the playing field. I as a classroom teacher do have a lot to contribute to the conversation. It is my job to get other teachers involved, connect with administrators and outside leaders to collaborate and move forward in education and innovation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What does student engagment look like?

Atypical day at pd..... I've been trying to teach my students our school's 3 R's (Responsible, Respectful, and Ready to Learn). So, when I go to a meeting or PD session, I have to practice what I preach. Which isn't that easy. We had a recent classroom walk through day. Team of peers and others walk through our classrooms throughout the day and observe classroom instruction. Usually this kind of activity is not welcomed by teachers. I truly could go either way.

Nevertheless, the team was focusing on observing student engagement. We got some constructive feedback. But actually, what I really took from our PD or this whole experience was my own reflections on my practice and specifically how I engage students in my classroom.

These were the ideas we focused on.
  1. Communicates learning goals / objectives
  2. Encourages active learning
  3. Gives prompt feedback
  4. Emphasizes time on task
  5. Communicates High Expectations
  6. Encouraging student to teacher and student to student interactions
  7. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
  8. Respects diverse talents and ways of knowing
My takeaways: I'd say that I incorporate a lot of the ideas into my teaching already. It's good to see them articulated here. It reminds me of a tip I once heard from a motivational talk. The presenter asked us. Have you PEE'd today? That is did I Plan, Execute, and Evaluate? This ideas encourage active teaching for myself and modeling active learning for my students.

My next steps: Focus on planning these ideas into my lessons. Learn how to adjust my teaching so that I can engage students in my class in new ways. Be open to learning from others, especially my own students.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"How Do You Make a Great Teacher"

Listened in on Bill Gates on TED Talks, thanks to Wes Fryer's Tweet. Some really powerful ideas. I have been in education for a few years now, going on 15. But, just have come back to teaching in the last three years. So, the question for me is "How do I become a great teacher?" Am on the right path? Is all this measurable or not?, I am not sure. Just asking the question is a step in the right direction.

This past week was big motivation for me. I/we documented our activities on our classroom blog; Third Grade Discoveries. It seems that when I am willing to step out of "what's normal" I am able to get closer to being a great teacher.