Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NECC 2007: Closing Session

Dr. Tim Tyson, principal of Mabry Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia, presented on his school's version of School 2.0. He wanted an environemnt where children could create a meaningful contribution to the world and used the availability of immediate global distribution of work via the Internet as the key to making that possible.

The school has an annual film festival. Students work in groups to study content and develop a video about their topic. They are told that if their projects are perfect, they can go on iTunes on his vodcast. Dr. Tyson showed several student videos. Projects are eligible for awards and winners receive gifts like iPods, computers, and sofyware (e.g., Final Cut Pro).

Children crave opportunities to make a contribution to their world.

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NECC 2007: From Hand It In to Publish It: Re-Envisioning Our Classrooms

This session was presented by Will Richardson and revisited some of the content addressed in his CUE 2007 presentation, but share much new information as well. An added benefit of the presentation was that Richardson included a wiki of the presentation at and he included great examples of student work.
  • The Wikipedia experiences about 500 edits every 3 minutes.
  • MIT's courses are all available free online at
  • We are teaching our children keyboarding and mouse use, but that is not the way of the future.
  • Friedman will release The World is Flat 3.0 this summer (containing three additional chapters).
  • There is a Delicious site that allows us to see who is networked from a given Delicious site. It is available here.
  • He mentioned the lack of power of a taxonomy like the Dewey Decimal System in a modern society and the creation of folksonomies to fill in the need for a new organizational system.
  • He mentioned Scan This Book which is the article describing Google's attempt to scan and publish all paper-based text, ever.
  • Richardson let us hear/see examples of good teaching with Web 2.0 tools:
    • A first grade podcast about ants on Radio WillowWeb. Hear it here.
    • Grades 3-12 students connect with astronauts. See it here.
    • First graders report on their beach trip. See it here.
    • US and Bangladesh students worked together in a wiki space to understand our flattening world from a global perspective. Read it here.
He asked if our classrooms of today are preparing our students for the world in which they'll live when they graduate. Richardson cited data of Web 2.0 tools by IBM employees and noted that children graduating from high schools today will need to be retrained in that work world. The only way to prepare them for this world is to model it in the classroom and then let students experience it, making their mistakes in a safe, learning environment. Because of the anticipated frequency in job changing, it is critical we develop lifelong-, self-learners. The beginning of this is by placing teachers in front of them who are clearly lifelong learners.

Richardson noted that the discussion always comes down to the "Yeah, but..." discussion. His answer is to begin by getting teachers using the technology and to model its use. An answer to the "I have to prepare my students for the test" argument is that it is possible to use these technologies to help students master the test. For those saying "There's just no time" Richardson's answer was that it's time to "suck it up" because our students deserve it. This comment was met with widespread applause.

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NECC 2007: Gaming Technology in U.S. History

This presentation focused on resources offered through Colonial Williamsburg. The presenter, Dale Van Eck, showcased several wonderful sites available for teaching about American History. He provided passwords for attendees to use to review the materials, but noted that there is a $150 charge to schools to use these resources. The highlighted sites included:

Colonial Williamsburg Main Site:
"A Day in the Life" Series:
Dressing Colonialists Game:
Rare Breeds Program:
Rare Breeds Game:
Soldiers of Liberty:

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NECC 2007: Reinventing Education for the 21st Century (Designing School 2.0)

Wes Fryer and Katie Beedon were presenters for this session. See
I was very eager to hear this presentation because I've intermittently followed Wes' blog/podcast for over a year now.
  • It's easy to teach and lead poorly.
  • Before you can deal with change, however, you have to see it. Then you have to accept it. Sometimes that's the hardest part--acknowledging and then accepting that the way you've always done business or lived your life just won't work anymore." Lee Iacocca, "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" (2007)
  • This is a challenging world where we need to embrace change.
  • There are no "silver bullets" in education.
  • Wes showed the video "Teacher Video" and then we discussed in pairs why we thought this was an important video to show to teachers and pre-service teachers. The video challenges us to question the status quo and accepting that it's okay to be different.
  • Wes encouraged us to all attend the K12Online Conference in October 2007. It's free and online.
  • Web 2.0 allows students to create for an authentic audience.
  • "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Alan Kay
  • Levels of change: 1st (requires a little "tweak"), 2nd (requires several "tweaks"), and 3rd (requires transformative change). Unknown author
  • Innovative school districts are innovative because they have great leaders.
  • We need to ask "what's best for kids," not "what's convenient"?
  • Ask "Who are your Yodas?" and "To whom are you a Yoda?" We are no longer limited to having Yodas who are geographically in similar locations.
  • We also showed the following video about administrators:
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Wes speak; he is as dynamic in person as he is on his podcast. That said, I didn't gain any new information from his presentation. It was a way of re-addressing the need for disruptive technologies and transformational learning that he's covered well in his podcast.

Katie Beedon worked to assist AT&T-using organizations to collaborate with one another.

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NECC 2007: SIGTE Forum: Tools to Assess the Use of Technology for 21st Century Skills

The SIG-TE Forum had three invited guests from SRI including Angela Haydel DeBarger, Corinne Singleton, and Britte Cheng. They spoke on several projects inclufing Principled Assessment Designs for Inquiry (PADI), strategic learning consulting projects including Apple 1:1 computing and iPod initiative evaluation toolkits, and the Online Evaluation Resource Library.

Angela presented on the PADI project. The project recognizes the inherent problems in assessing complex skills, and breaks out skills into individual tasks. Each task can then be assessed indiidually.

Corinne presented on the Intel Skills for Assessment Rurics. These seem to align much more with contemporary methods of assessment. Our group preferred this approach because it was multi-modal including multiple artifacts as well as teacher and student perspectives of learning.

Britte introduced the the OERL Library of Assessment Tools. Our table was very pleased with this online tool and the availability of these resources. Colleen Swain suggested that, in alignment with the SIGTE reolution, SIGTE lead an online discussion (perhaps using Illuminate). Discussion attendees would all review assessments within the OERL before the session and these would be the basis for discussion.

Note, SIGTE also blogged this session.

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NECC 2007: Globalization Keynote Panel

A panel of experts led by Andrew Zoli spoke on the topic of developing creative kids. The panel included:
  • Mary Cullinane, Technology Architect (Microsoft) and Former Teacher
  • Dr. Francesc Pedro, OECD/CERI
  • Elizabeth Streb, Choreographer
  • Michael McCauley, Creative Director
Mary Cullinane: In a school of the future, the principal would be called the "chief learner." She recognized the tensions between accountability and the need for creativity. It is critical to create an environment where it's safe to fail and where it is comfortable to gather. Creativity and innovation are "swimming upstream" within educational contexts instead of having to fight the system. To be successful and creative, there is a need to be self-critical. At Microsoft, the employees were constantly working to improve on their own practice. Employees were also encouraged to think and to gather. Employees see "thinking" and "doing things" as equally important and there are times to think. Remember the word "motive." Constantly ask students what are their values, environments, motives, expectations, etc.

Francesc Pedro: He asked whether we could compare the creative potential and level of creative education students are receiving in 30 countries. He compared availability of computers at home versus computers available at schools. He found that students math scores increased when students had access to computers at school. This was not necessarily the case on a global scale with having computers available at schools. Include doers and learners in the instructional process. Teachers see themselves as artisans, but we assign them to clinical roles. Pedro noted the importance of language learning as early as possible and that the differences in gener-based intelligences are a myth.

Michael McCauley: The goal of creative directors is to inspire those around you to be creative and to support their ideas. Applied art is a "very dirty" business where you have to "fall down" and "break things." It's important to "mix it up" by changing dynamics so people can think creatively. Developing a creative process is about creating opportunities where individuals are inspired to meet their own goals. Read Whole New Mind and Dream Society.

Elizabeth Streb: Embrace what seems impossible and explore the possibility. Even if you don't succeed, you will gain new knowledge and experience. Imagine working in a garage - where people go to "mess things up." This is where real change happens. Allow complete sovereignty in the activities of students where their is a very thin line between their natural processes and the educational process. Go to Slam in New York. Read every title in the section of the bookstore in which you're interested.

Andrew Zolli recommends visiting Ask a Ninja.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

NECC 2007: Voices from the Past: Fictional Blogs of Historical Figures (Wood/Jenkins)

This session reported on three historical blogs created by students:
Harriet Tubman (3rd Grade):
World War II (8th Grade):
Civil War (4th Grade):

Harriet Tubman Blog

A third grade class studied Harriet Tubman by reading a book about her (The Story of Harriet Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Kate McMullan) and researching using other resources. The teacher assigned different roles to students that resulted in the creation of a class-created blog. They used tools including KidPix (timeline), Word (writing), Kidspiration (character fact webs), Photoshop, and Typepad. They also included a video file. The result is their website at:

  • All students were assigned an important date or event from the book to illustrate using KidPix. They had limited access to scanners and they knew KidPix easily translated into uploadable JPEGs.
  • Students wrote fictional stories as if they were moving along the underground railroad.
  • Students or pairs of students wrote blog entries by chapter, identifying what they found to be most important in the chapter and including pictures.
  • Students created character webs. This was particularly helpful for low-level learners who had difficulty writing, but could prepare brief excerpts in concept maps.
  • Higher-level students created fictional video interviews between "reporters" and "Harriet Tubman."
  • Used read-aloud time to read book to students
  • Language arts block was used to complete writing activities
  • Addressed standards in language arts, social studies, and technology
  • Use PhotoBucket or Picasa to save bandwidth
  • Create blog banner in PhotoShop
  • TypePad allowed them to create as many blogs as they would like for one year for $150
  • Observe copyright when importing pictures
  • Close comment options in the blog
  • Students do not need email access to work on these blogs

The World War II blog was created by 8th grade students in two different classrooms. The classes were remote from one another. This was a comment-moderated blog and only one student tried to upload an inappropriate comment.

Students chose an individual from World War II that they wanted to study. Each student had to write an "autobiographical" entry and had to comment on another entry. The entire blog was created in about two instructional days.

One student was assigned to create the blog banner using PhotoShop.

Fourth grade students studied the Civil War and created posts from the point of view of various people living in the time of the Civil War. Due to the lack of available technology, this blog activity was not as successful.

Other Notes

Wood does not use Blogger because he cannot remove the navbar which allows students to use the "Next Blog" option. I looked this up online and found that only those using Blogger via FTP can remove the navbar.

One change I would make is with the audio interviews. By using voice moderation during the audio interviews, they would sound more authentic and the students would enjoy experience the technology and final product. Also, I would prefer the audio interviews focused on higher-level questioning.

Another recommendation is that the students couple this activity with a field trip and a Chautauqua presentation.

This was a great presentation and I will use the tools and activities I learned here in the Teaching American History grant and with my ICE 234 students. I will reference these blogs in my ICE 458 class.

This session was presented by Herman Wood ( and Tina Jenkins

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NECC 2007: Refreshed NETS-S Relaease!

This session focused was a celebration of the release of the new NETS-S, refreshed from the 1998 version. Next year, ISTE will unveil refreshed NETS-T and in 2010 they will reveal revised NETS-A.

Don Knezek introduced the new standards which include:
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Research and information fluency
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making
  • Digital citizenship
  • Technology operations and concepts
He assured attendees that the standards are substantially different, reflecting the changes over the last eight years. The original standards focused on what students should know and be able to do with technology. The new standards focus more on 21st century skills, particularly students' abilities to use technology creatively and innovatively.

The session began with a review of the process of the refreshment process including a discussion of the international input into the final product.

The celebration included recognition of the partners and supporting agencies (e.g., Partnership for the 21st Century Skills, U.S. Department of Education, State Education Technology Directors).

The true challenge of the refreshed NETS-S is to enjoy the ride - seeing how the new NETS-S play out in individual classrooms.

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