Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Google Bombing

googleInteresting idea..... google bombing. I have never heard of it until today. Tom Hoffman began the conversation in the ed tech blogging world. Read his post. The first Google entry for Martin Luther King is a racist, slanderous site run by a white supremacy organization. Search engines (ie google) rank websites based on how many other websites link to them. As a potential solution, he encourages others to link to reputable websites that we want our students going to as they learn about Martin Luther King. I'll do my part by linking to some good websites, as this is a good cause. I do have reservations about the idea... can google bombing be "discovered" by the hackers to do harm? Hmmm.

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Friday, November 17, 2006

Presentation at Western High School

Yesterday afternoon I facilitated the staff meeting at Walled Lake Western High School that I wrote about in my November 12 entry. The presentation went very well, I think. As part of the presentation, I invited a teacher to assist as we created a podcast on the fly – thank you Brian Blackney! The teachers could see how easy it was to hook up a microphone, open Audacity, and record an audio file. We converted the file to an mp3. Listen to this podcast, titled “President Bush on Podcasting.” (10 seconds)

The teachers were given a few minutes to brainstorm ideas of what they might do as a result of the presentation – ideas for personal and classroom use. I recorded their ideas with the digital voice recorder that came on my mp3 player. You will want to listen to their ideas. (about 10 minutes)

One thing I regret ...I forgot to mention during the presentation about the project that Anna Murphy recently completed with her senior English students. It is a great example of how you can embed 21st century skills into the school day. Her students selected one piece of writing that they were/are proud of, then found images and music to go along with it. Anna shared a few of the videos with me and they are outstanding! I have tremendous respect for Anna; she stepped out of her comfort zone, dealt with technical difficulties, and maintained a positive attitude throughout the process. She told me that her students really appreciated the assignment and that she learned a great deal. Another teacher chimed in, saying that many of the teachers in the English department, due to Anna’s encouragement, now carry flash drives on their key chains.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Podcasting A month or so ago, I did a short presentation for the Walled Lake Schools administrative staff. A summary of the Report and Mile Guide for 21st Century Skills by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (http://www.21stcenturyskills.org) was given. The report says that today’s educational system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn. To drive this point home, I shared a video that was created by Jacki Campbell, a friend of mine from Wayne RESA, titled “24 hours in the Life of a Digital Native.” The video featured a teenage boy sitting in a classroom at a desk, bored stiff, all throughout the school day. Contrastingly, when the dismissal school bell rang, he immediately began using digital equipment for various entertainment, social, and learning tasks. He used his cell phone, mp3 player, laptop, and video game system during the afternoon and evening hours. The video was hypothetical, but it proved a point – that there is a huge difference between how students live and how they learn in school. After seeing the video, the administrators had small group discussions about their thoughts and insights regarding what the video was implying about our schools.

One of the high school principals called me a few days later, to say that he had been thinking a lot about video. He expressed that it took him a few days to grapple with the content, but that he wanted to show the video to his entire staff, and then discuss strategies that could be done to help bridge the gap between how students live and how they are expected to learn in their school. He called me several times over the next two weeks with a new question, thought, or idea. He was particularly interested in podcasting, and was beginning to have informal conversations about podcasting with some of his teachers. Together, we planned an agenda for an upcoming staff meeting.

His inquiry and request came at a perfect time for me. I had been planning to start by own blog and dapple with podcasting for several months. His request nudged me to take action. I knew that I had to have first-hand experience with podcasting for two main reasons – to give myself credibility and to learn the procedures. I now know how to record audio, add a few seconds of music, convert the sound file to an mp3 file, create a blog that is not blocked by our school filter, write and edit entries in a blog, post mp3s on a blog, and create an RSS feed so folks can get updates using an aggregator. This all sounds so complicated, but it really isn’t. A podcast is really only a sound file that is posted on the Internet.

Although I very much look forward to presenting to the Walled Lake Western High School staff about all this, I know I need to focus more on the purposes and educational reasons for podcasting and blogging rather than the procedures. The desire to try something new for reasons that make sense to teachers will make learning the process less hard. I am anxious to hear their ideas of how podcasting might be helpful for students as they listen to teacher-created podcasts AND how it might be valuable for students to create their own podcasts on various topics they are learning about.

I also want to stress the incredible value of blogging and podcasting for a teacher's own learning. Experiencing this kind of learning with a network of people with similar interests should be the first step, I think. This is what I’ve been doing for several months, and I don’t think I would have the same understanding for the purpose and value of using podcasting as part of the educational process without having spent this time learning in this way myself.

If after the staff meeting a group of teachers is interested in exploring podcasting and blogging, I’d be delighted to work with them to coach and guide them as they get started. I have some ideas about how I would do that. Hopefully, I will share enough information at the staff meeting to make a few teachers curious about the next step. That is my goal.

Listen to this blog post as an mp3 audio file

Subscribe with Bloglines

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Desire + Effort = Achievment

I attended an incredible workshop on Thursday, sponsored by the Galileo Teacher Leadership Academy. Jon Saphier, of Research for Better Teaching, Inc. (http://www.rbteach.com) presented about the essential role of teacher leaders in high functioning teams. Dr. Saphier spoke candidly about the role of teacher leaders in school improvement efforts, classroom instruction, and professional learning communities.Dr. Saphier has studied high performing schools for many years. He has found that when schools convey hope to all students about the promise of education and the capacity of each of them to develop their abilities, student achievement significantly increases. He says “Smart is something you can get” and has seen what happens when schools learn and practice strategies to help kids believe in themselves.

Most people can think of something that they feel they are not good at, and most can identify a specific incident that lead them to believe that they were not good at it. We all were asked to think of something that we were not good at. I am not good at softball. I cannot throw the ball, and when at the plate I either strike out or hit the ball to first base. My first memory of feeling that I was not good at softball was in PE class in elementary school. I remember the snide comments and snickers from my classmates, and after that I avoided softball whenever I could. Perhaps if I would have spent more time playing catch and learning how to hit the ball, I would have gone on to play ball in high school and beyond.

The purpose for this activity was to help us all see the importance of instilling hope in our students when they make mistakes or do not perform well. If it is a belief of teachers and students that making mistakes is a normal and expected part of the learning process, then our students would keep trying if given support and encouragement. If we could change the internal belief of students who think they are innately unable to perform at high academic levels, then we would be able to accomplish great things every day.

Dr. Saphier showed video clips of teachers and students during a lesson, and asked us to notice the teacher’s responses to student answers. The teacher skillfully used appropriate responses to award student thinking….even when students gave the wrong answers. The students verbalized their thoughts and commented on their classmates’ ideas. The classroom was truly a community of learners, due to the skillful practices of the teacher. The teacher gave encouragement, praised good thinking, validated students who acknowledged that they were confused, and expressed confidence in kids as they struggled to learn.

What do you think the impact would be if the teachers from an entire school had this belief? “All children can learn to high levels, and that it is within my capacity and within my responsibility as a teacher to assure that it happens. Thus my knowledge base includes knowing how to carry out those beliefs in daily teaching practice as I communicate expectations, cultivate risk taking, and build a climate of mutual support among students.”

Technology can be used as a tool to support teachers as they practice new teaching strategies. There are many strategies to help kids believe in themselves, and video is a powerful tool that can be used for analysis of teaching practices. I would love to be a part of training effort where I would work with teachers on some or all of these strategies.

Listen to entry (mp3)

Friday, November 3, 2006

Getting Going

Getting Going PodcastI attended the MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer Users for Education) Conference last March and learned about how blogs and podcasts were being used for education. Although I intended to get started with my own blog right away, I instead have spent the past 7 months observing the blogging world. I now subscribe to 29 ed tech blogs that I check every single day. I have been reading the stimulating conversations, learning new things, and exploring my own thoughts and ideas. Well, I am ready now to join the blogging and podcasting world.

My favorite ed tech bloggers are:

1. Will Richardson: weblogg-ed, http://weblogg-ed.com/

2. Danny Maas: TILT - Teachers Improving Learning With Technology, http://tilttv.blogspot.com/

3. Wes Fryer: Moving at the Speed of Creativity, http://www.speedofcreativity.org/

4. David Warlick: Connected Learning, http://davidwarlick.com/connectlearning/

Why there are so few ed tech bloggers that are women? Perhaps I just don't know about them. I am the Technology Integration Coordinator for Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, a district in southeastern Michigan. I work with some amazing teachers and we have much to share. I want to include topics such as new ideas and trends, research, best practices, staff development, and classroom examples in my blog. I will also be experimenting with podcasting and plan to come up with some recommendations for Walled Lake teachers: such as where to post, how to create and edit audio clips, and how to communicate the presence of our blogs and podcasts through RSS feeds. I figure that the best way to figure all these things out is to just do it!

Listen to Getting Going as a podcast.

Pam Shoemaker

Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Technology Integration Coordinator