SMART tweets

We've just completed a unit of study in my grade 12 Pre-Cal 40S class. I call the kind of lesson we had today a "workshop." I prepare a series of problems as slides for the SMARTboard. The class is divided into groups of 3 or 4 students each. (Actually, this class is very big. All groups had 4 students and a couple had 5; not ideal working conditions but we do the best we can with what we've got.) They collaborate in their groups to solve each problem. Whenever they feel ready, anyone in the class spontaneously walks up to the SMARTboard and shares their solution. Other groups continue to solve the problem and analyze the work on the board for errors and "good form".

I'm really proud of how they work together and engage with the content and each other. It wasn't like this from day one but we've been working together for more than three months now. I was admiring their work today and wanted to share it. (In the back of my mind I was also thinking about how I would answer a question Ben Hazzard had thrown my way from this week's SMARTboard Lesson Podcast.) Anyway, I tweeted what they were doing as they did it. Ben Wilkoff suggested (tweeted) I share it here. Thanks Ben!

When the young lady working on the last problem hit a snag, several people spoke up to help her sort it out. Eventually, as time was running out of class, I helped them finish it off. After they solve each problem the first questions I ask are:

So, what do you all think?

Have they got that right?

How does it look?

Anyone want to change anything?

Any questions students ask are redirected to the student(s) who shared their work. They usually correct any errors with little or no prompting from me. If I do notice any errors they have missed I'll say: "There are X errors there. Can you find them?" or "This is good but it would have lost a few half marks. Can you see where?" Most of my comments focus on the wee technical details regarding how their work should be presented. I also point out the sorts of common errors that come up in tests and exams.

When I plan my lessons I try build them around these ideas:

Watch it. Do it. Teach it.

How can I make their thinking transparent to each other; and me?

They should touch the SMARTboard more often than I.

So, this is one way I use the SMARTboard in my class. It's just one piece of a larger whole in the way we use technology to support student learning. I'd love to hear what other folks do with their Interactive White Boards (IWBs).

Your thoughts?

Photo credit: Where's Batman?

This is important ...

Normally, national politics is not something I blog about. This issue is different. It crosses the boundaries of politics, technology and education; not just the spheres those words encompass but international boundaries as well. And it may really hurt students and teachers.


Canada's Minister of Industry, Jim Prentice is about to introduce a new "copyright" bill to parliament strongly influenced by special interests outside Canada and the United States' DMCA. This is being touted as a Canadian DMCA; one that may be even more restrictive than the DMCA in the United States.

First a little context, and then why I think this is an important issue, not just for Canadian educators, but educators everywhere.


Michael Geist, a Canadian lawyer and professor of law, has been blogging about this issue full on for a while now. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, one of our two national media outlets) has a regular podcast called Search Engine (Clarence turned me on to this, I am now an avid subscriber. They talk each week about the intersection between the evolution of the internet and the society in which we live.). Search Engine has been podcasting about the new copyright bill for the last few weeks. The most recent 27 minute episode devotes the first 15 minutes to:

• summarizing the debate so far.

• articulating some of the controversy surrounding Minister Prentice's apparent lack of willingness to answer the concerns surrounding this legislation by the Canadian public.

• and the role Facebook played in starting a rally at the Minister's offices in Calgary last week. It includes some audio of the event and an interview with the rally organizer.

The good news is that the bill has been delayed until at least late January. Up until now, it has seemed as though the Minister was trying to rush the bill through parliament. The delay allows the government to take a more thoughtful and "technologically mature" (more about this below) approach to this legislation. More importantly, Canada, late to the "new copyright legislation" game internationally, has a real opportunity to play a leadership role illustrating how a technologically sophisticated society can try to find a balance between copyright holders and copyright users in the digital age.


My students are currently working on their Developing Expert Voices projects. (Last year's projects are here.) They are creating content, at the uppermost limit of their understanding, that educates an interested learner. They have to publish this content online. Mine is only one of many classes around the globe publishing their content online. Some of that content is remixed copyrighted material. Canada's copyright legislation doesn't include a fair use clause, that's an American legal concept; we have a fair dealing clause, it's a little more restrictive. Reading it won't lead to a straightforward answer to the question: "Can I use short video clips from a TV program in my project?" The current legislation doesn't even mention digital media of any sort, only print media. It needs to be updated.

The internet has made this a world without borders. When we publish content online it is distributed, within seconds, around the world. Copyright holders have rights. In Canada, so do copyright users. Exactly what those rights are is very murky, although Laura Murry (Queens U.) and Sam Trusow (U. of Western Ontario) have written a book to try and help clear it up a bit. Here is an excerpt:

As the Supreme Court declared in Théberge v. Galerie d’Art du Petit Champlain (2002), “Excessive control by holders of copyrights and other forms of intellectual property may unduly limit the ability of the public domain to incorporate and embellish creative innovation in the long-term interests of society as a whole, or create practical obstacles to proper utilization.” The court also noted, “Once an authorized copy of a work is sold to a member of the public, it is generally for the purchaser, not the author, to determine what happens to it.” In 2004, in CCH v. Law Society of Upper Canada, the Supreme Court was even more explicit about the importance of users’ rights.

Many teachers and parents have kids who are publishing work online. Work they can and should be proud of. The content they remix can come from anywhere, across any border. The read/write web is not just a computer geek phenomenon, it has impacted all cultures across the planet. This cultural shift, sometimes described as participatory culture, needs to be included in a modern approach to copyright legislation. The public, or copyright users, effected by this legislation span the globe.

If there is any doubt about the impact that participatory culture is having on our society listen to that episode of Search Engine. At 10 min. 43 sec. there is an audio excerpt from a recent sitting of the House of Commons (our national legislature). In particular listen to the comments made by one of the opposition Members of Parliament made at the 12 min. 23 sec. mark. When the significance of Facebook is referenced in political debate in the legislature it has clearly evolved into something more than a pastime for kids. (There is a group on Facebook, which today has over 26 000 members, called Fair Copyright for Canada.)

Kids should be able to share their learning in creative ways; they should be able to say what they've learned, differently. Their creativity should be encouraged and nurtured as they make positive contributions to the participatory culture in which we live. Copyright legislation that doesn't take this into account, from the perspective of the copyright user, will stifle creativity in our culture, our society and our children. No one says this more eloquently than Larry Lessig in his recently published TED Talk: 3 Stories and An Argument. If you haven't seen it, here it is:


Watch the video below, or read this. If you're not Canadian, don't let that stop you from expressing your opinion too. This issue will effect you; either as a user of Canadian copyrighted materials or when your nation's legislators begin to draft their modern copyright legislation. They'll look around at Canada, and other countries for guidance on how to draft it. What do you hope they'll see when they look over here?

Inflection Points

The last three years have felt like a long ride in the Tilt-a-Whirl. Every week, sometimes every day, opened my eyes to new possibilities for what could be accomplished in the classroom. Scads of new (free) tools became available each day. My head snapped as I tried to assimilate new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.

I got used to it though. I've begun to generalize the way I think about each new tool. Does it have RSS? Can I link to it? Does it allow for tagging? embedding? The blog is still the hub for all these functionalities.

Most recently, Dean pushed my thinking a little further with his K12 Online presentation Design Matters. I've been thinking about the ideas he talked about there daily. They're slowly weaving their way into my classroom.

But now, it feels like the learning is slowing down. I've reached an inflection point; still growing, just much more slowly. I know from playing guitar that you reach these stretches where it feels like you're not really advancing anymore. Just doing the same things you've already learned. It feels like the learning stops. What I've found, playing guitar, is that a moment comes. Unexpectedly. Like a bolt from the blue. All that "quiet" time was really just my fingers getting ready to take the next leap.

I'm turning inward a bit now. Mulling things over. Thinking about how my teaching practices have consolidated over the last few years. Turning back to my roots.

I'm wondering what the next inflection point is going to look like. And when it's going to come.


Hi. This is Darren Kuropatwa ...

Hi. This is Darren Kuropatwa. I'm just testing out a new service I found, Where you can just make a quick call on your cellphone and Jott a message in audio. Then automatically it's posted to your blog. And I've never done that before so I wanna see what that's gonna look like. Now I can do it to Twitter and I can also send e-mail this way. So this is really interesting and I wanna see how this all plays out. Let me know listen Powered by Jott

Blogging: Does It Scale?

I'm participating in a forum as a mentor for a group of teachers learning about using web 2.0 tools in their classrooms. One of them asked about how would blogging across the curriculum and grades scale?

I don't know that there is a best answer but this is where I'm at in my thinking about it at the moment:

There are basically three models teachers use to blog with their students:

(1) A Comment Blog • The teacher creates the blog and is the sole authour.

• The teacher posts thoughtful (provocative?) questions to the blog and the students reply in the comments. They might even aggregate research (hyperlinked to sources) in the comments when prompted to by the teacher.

• This model is often used by teachers trying blogging for the first time. Nonetheless this can be an incredibly powerful use of blogging as exemplified in the, now dormant, A Look at Bullying blog.

(2) The Class Blog (this is what I do) • The teacher and students all share authourship and contribute content to the blog.

• The teacher structures the nature of the content that students are required to contribute and the students are free to contribute more as the mood moves them.

(3) The Mother Blog (Clarence Fisher does this. So does Barbara Ganly; I think she coined the term "Mother Blog.") • Each student has their own blog.

• The teacher runs a central blog that all the students subscribe to and check in on daily.

• The mother blog is linked to all the students blogs and vice versa.

• The teacher uses the mother blog to guide the students learning by:

» "handing out" assignments on the mother blog.

»aggregating and pointing to resources that may be useful in the students learning.

»highlighting exemplary work shared by students on their individual blogs. This drives traffic (comments) to that student's blog and models for the rest of the class what exemplary work looks like. (Powerful motivational consequences flow from this practice.)

How Might This Scale? If I were looking at a school wide implementation of blogging across the curriculum I would probably aim to have a fusion of (2) and (3) above:

»Each student would have their own blog where they aggregate all their work from all their classes through the years. Over time this becomes a concrete artifact of their learning. The content can also be remixed into a portfolio of all they have learned. Using a wiki to create that portfolio (pbwiki does this quite nicely) allows them to cross reference (using links) the opus of work archived in their individual blog.

»Each class would also have a class blog blog where the teacher could orchestrate and structure the class' learning experiences. All the content from that particular class would be aggregated in the class blog. Students would cross post (copy and paste) any content they create to both their personal and class blogs. Teachers may pursue a "mother blog" concept with their classes too simply by cross linking the student's blogs and the class blog.

»When students "graduate" from whatever school they are attending (elementary to high school, high school to university, etc.) they would take their individual blog with them. Hopefully, when they leave secondary school, they will continue to use their blog to capture their learning for the rest of their lives.

One virtue of setting things up this way is that it transparently models and provides the tools for life long learning.

Are there other benefits? shortcomings?

Are there obstacles to implementing this? What are they?

What do you think? ;-)

Photo Sources: untitled by flickr user stranded_starfish
node by flickr user uqbar

After The Party: MBEdubloggercon

We had a great night! There were over 60 people in the room, some familiar faces and lots of new ones too. My only regret was that I didn't get a chance to talk to and meet more of the people who were there. The real hero of the evening, IMHO, was Andy McKiel, the president of our provincial Ed. Tech. association, MANace. Andy organized the evening and made sure all the technology ran flawlessly. This never would have happened without him. At one point during the evening, all of us who were presenting were chatting; we unanimously shared how grateful we were for all of Andy's hard work. Thanks Andy!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

I've just updated the Manitoba EdubloggerCon wiki. We had a live Twitter feed and UStream feed. All the videos of the unpresentations can be seen from the Manitoba Edubloggercon UStream account or the wiki.

The next day, yesterday, Chris, Clarence, Dean, John and I had lunch together to catch up and chat. Unfortunately, John had to leave early but as we lingered over the end of the meal, Dean fired up his laptop and started streaming video and audio on his Ustream channel. We were joined for lunch by over 20 people from across the world. We forgot to click the record button so we've lost the video archive but Clarence saved the chat which you can download from his blog or read directly on the MBEdubloggercon wiki (it's easier to follow the links off the wiki page). There was lots of interesting discussion and some good links shared. One of them led me to a voicethread archive of lots of math content that's giving me ideas for how I can use it in my classroom. That's also a resource I can link to and use in my Consumer Math 20S (grade 10, approx. 15 y.o.) class. (My daughter (7 years) and I watched this one this morning and left a comment on the last slide.)

Dean took some photos at lunch. I aggregated them into this voicethread. (I know Dean wants to hear lots of comments about the salad (slide 2) I had with my lunch.) I haven't had a chance to add any comments yet. Feel free to add yours before I do. ;-)

One thing that came out loud and clear (you can see it in the chat transcript) is that our ideas about what good professional development should look like have changed dramatically. It's not worth our time unless it provides an opportunity to engage with what's being shared by dialogging about it. And that dialogue should include global participation via twitter, UStream or some other way to access our learning networks. More than that, archiving the experience somehow is also important. The archive provides people who were there the opportunity to go back and reflect on what they heard/learned/participated in and offers other educators around the world an opportunity to participate vicariously after the event and add their voices to the conversation.

Having been immersed in "networked learning" for a while now, the power of the network to connect and amplify learning still amazes me every time. Even my 7 year old daughter got something out of all this. Thanks to an email I got from Brian Metcalfe (who attended the event on Thursday night) while I was chatting with Dean this morning we're talking about an idea that may make math a little more fun in classrooms across the world, in March ... on the fourteenth, to be exact. ;-) I'll share more about it here as we flesh this out.

Like I keep saying to my students, again and again, "Learning is a conversation. If you're not talking to someone about it, you're not learning it."

Thin Walled World

So much to blog, so little time ... but this is exciting (at least it is to me) and I wanted to archive it here in my outboard brain.

I have had online mentors working with my classes for about two years now. Lani Ritter-Hall has been there from the beginning and continues to model the art and science of effective blog mentorship. (This latest example was fantastic! The kids faces as they heard her voice for the first time was priceless.)

Alec Couros and I are collaborating with his two classes of student teachers mentoring my classes via their blogs this year as well. For the last six weeks they have worked mostly with my Consumer Math 20S (grade 10, aged approx. 15 years) class and recently begun expanding their work to my Pre-Cal 40S and AP Calculus classes. I think it has been something of an eye opener for the student teachers to compare the nature and pace of work and the character of the online interactions in the different classes.

The students in my AP Calculus class have been mentored online going on three years now. I have had the good fortune to teach this same group of kids for three years in a row; I have taught them all their high school mathematics. The group is much smaller now; we're at 11 students down from nearly 30 in grade 10, one of whom is new to the group.

Anyway, their learning has been enriched via these online mentorships and they have started to think of ways they can pay it forward and maybe get a good reference for scholarship applications they will be making in the near future.

Clarence and Barbara are pushing the boundaries of education this year in their Thin Walled Classroom. The students in "this class" are learning at least one thing together each day. Using a suite of online tools, they are creating a classroom with very thin walls where the kids have teachers in two countries and two time zones; one they see face to face, one they don't. (Man, how I wish my own kids were students in this classroom.)

When three of my AP Calculus students approached me with the idea of of taking on the role of blog mentors I tweeted about it and got three bites in short order. I shared the urls of the people who were interested and my kids chose to work with Clarence and Barbara in the Thin Walled Classroom. I have letters of permission from their parents that I keep on file and am keeping tabs on their work from my end. Clarence asked them to be positive in their comments but also to push the younger students and challenge them in their work to help them amplify their learning. They are not to act as cheerleaders but as catalysts for growth. (After their experiences being mentored by Lani for these last few years they knew exactly what the expectations were.) Clarence also asked them to archive and email him with the comments they leave behind every five or six comments or so. It struck me that it would be much better to use a blog to record their comments.

Using Blogger allows the functionality of emailing a post to a unique, user determined, address where the subject line becomes the post title and the body, including all formating, become the body of the blog post. (See my recent test.) Each of my student/mentors is building a blog where they will archive their comments and post urls to the students in the thin walled classroom. After they have done this for a few weeks they will go over the comments they have left behind and post a brief reflection about the work they have done and how they can improve it in the future. This also makes it really easy for Clarence, Barbara and I to monitor their work and creates a concrete artifact they can point to when they reference this work in their scholarship applications.

Yesterday, the first of the new student mentor blogs went live. Grey-M's new blog is called Advice Through Ethereal Walls. He left his first comment to Hannah whose blog is called Believing is Succeeding (great name for an edublog).

I was so taken with this idea that I went to share all this with my principal and discuss how I see this evolving in the future.

How would it be if students who begin grade 9 or 10 at my school, in blogging classes, are mentored via their blogs so that by the time they reach grade 12 they can assume the role of mentor as well to pay it forward? Commenting/mentoring students in the younger grades in our school and our feeder schools builds a self sustaining model so that by grade 12 we may have a cadre of blog mentors that can support the learning of students in our community and abroad. After all, thanks to blogging, we live in a thin walled world.

He liked the idea. We'll see where it goes.

In the mean time feel free to mentor the mentor by dropping in on Grey-M and wishing him well on the launch of his latest blogging adventure.

This is a test ...

Does emailing a post to blogger work well? What does it look like?

This is a test to see how that works. I'm checking this for for a project that I'll share more about here as soon as all the pieces are in place.

This sentence is just to see how the blockquote feature gets published on the blog.

How about bold, italic, coloured text and highlighted text?


Questions About Blogging in the Classroom

About two years ago I was interviewed by Robyn MacBride as part of her research for her Masters thesis which was about blogging in the classroom. Her adviser, professor April Luemann, contacted me last spring to let me know she and Robyn had shared the results of their research at a conference in Chicago. It was a real shot in the arm for my students to see the slides where their words were held up to be exemplary edublogging.

This week April contacted me again. She and another student of hers are presenting at another conference. They've been focusing on edublogging in science classes and came across a number of references to me and my students work. April asked if I'd be willing to answer a few questions for their research and presentation at the conference. I said yes and that I wanted to reply in a public way where others might also have an opportunity to share their views. So, I created this voicethread.

I don't claim to have all the answers; these are just my answers. Please add your own as well directly on the voicethread or in the comments to this post.

Photo Credit: 5

It started with a lunch date ...

Our provincial professional development day (with the most unfortunate name: SAG (Special Area Groups)) is coming in about two weeks, on November 23. Clarence, Chris and I we're talking:

"Hey, Clarence will be in town. Why don't we go for lunch, maybe a drink, and spend some time catching up?"

"Yeah, good idea. I like that."

"Hey, maybe we could start a homegrown Manitoba EduBloggerCon. We'll just throw up a wiki, publish about it on our blogs, maybe there'll be five or six of us who can all get together for lunch."

So, Clarence throws up a wiki and we wait to see what happens. (In spite of the url typo, there will be no nasal effluvium involved ... but there will be beer.)

To make a long story short, Andy McKiel, the President Elect of ManACE signed up first and generously offered to host what is turning out to be a much bigger event.

John Evans, Chris, Clarence and I will give 6 minute (6 is my favourite number) unconference-like talks about what we're up to vis-a vis teaching and technology. There will be an open mic so anyone is welcome to do the same. We'll have a projector and screen with wireless and might even have a SMARTBoard set up running twittercamp. Dean Shareski (who will be attending another conference in Winnipeg that week) will be there too giving it a broader "Prairie Province feel." We might even have a Ustream feed.

As of last week we had over 40 people signed up (not all are registered via the wiki) and Andy has put together the flyer you see below. I think twittercamp is a definite go. Ustream is still in the discussion phase but we all like the idea.

If you are in or around Winnipeg on the night of November 22 drop in and say hello. We'd all love to see you there. ;-)

[Just experimenting here, I uploaded the doc to my new account to see how it all works. It has a great many more cool features than just hosting jpeg files.]

Blogging is Pointless in Education

How is someone writing their diary online, for everyone to read, going to help anyone learn anything? I mean, who cares about what you did today? Why on earth would I be interested in the minutiae of someone's personal life? Who they like; who they don't; where they're going this weekend; what they ate for breakfast; or ... any of it?!?

How do you reply to people who feel this way? In my experience the best answer is to point them to the ever growing list of excellent educational blogs published daily. We have class blogs, individual student blogs, teacher blogs, professional development blogs, course blogs and the list goes on and on. There are many good reasons we blog.

Along comes twitter. The stupidest idea you've ever heard: "What are you doing right now?" People everywhere sharing the minutiae of their daily lives as it happens. Ridiculous! Or is there something more to it?

My first reaction to twitter was: "Huh? Why would anyone want to do that?" I watched it take off across the edublogosphere, amazed. Why are people doing this? Who has time for such nonsense?

Alan Levine wrote a series of blog posts about his enthusiasm for twittering. I finally asked him, in a comment, what's the value gained from tweeting. His reply essentially said: Educational Technology is not a spectator sport. We learn by doing. Alan's recent presentation Being There, underscores this perspective quite powerfully. (I highly recommend taking it in via the flickr set.)

Some of the advantages I've found from tweeting:

• Links to resources like walk2web, fauxto, screencast-o-matic and many more.

• I've made new friends (one of many) who share their resources and contribute in meaningful ways when I give PD workshops.

• It's intimate. People say good morning and good night.

• It's very personal and it's very professional. It provides instant access to a community of practice where people share knowledge and expertise and also provide support and encouragement and problem solve together.

There are many more example of all this in Nancy White's wiki. (A great resource; thanks for that Nancy!)

Twitter has become very much my staffroom where I connect with a variety of educators (teachers, principals and superintendents) across the spectrum of teaching domains, age groups, socioeconomic and geophysical contexts. There are also a number of consultants and others working in education whose job descriptions don't fit neatly into any box. All these people have become integral players in my ever growing community of professional practice.

Joan Badger and Ben Hazard in the SmartBoard Lesson Podcast: Episode 72 talk about twitter. They seem to be sitting at the start of Alan's Twitter Life-Cycle. Like Alan says in his "Being There" presentation about edtech tools in general, you can't judge the worth of a tool by watching someone else use it; you have to use it yourself to understand it. You won't appreciate the true value of twitter until you jump in with both feet. Maybe try something like what Bob Sprankle did in July: Tweet regularly for 30 days ... then see how you feel about it.

I started writing this almost three months ago. This week Ben Hazard added me to his twitter stream and I added him to mine. Maybe this whole post is now moot but when Ben added me to his stream (actually, twitter is more like the Mackenzie) I was inspired to publish this post; the first of 23 posts I have sitting in draft. Thanks for the push Ben, you got me writing again. ;-)

By the way, if you've not listened to the SMARTBoard Lesson Podcast I highly recommend it. I've been a regular listener for about nine months now. Always engaging, always good for a laugh and a great model for collaborative professional practice and development. If you use an interactive whiteboard in your teaching then you'll get a lot out of listening to the podcast. In the meantime, I'm going to try to get my "SMARTBoard Tip" in for the contest before time runs out. (Listen for the podcast to find out more.)

Cheers Ben and Joan!

(Don't) Help Find Evan Trembley

Thanks to the commenters (see comments) who have pointed out I have been hoodwinked. All that follows is a hoax. Now I know to always check stuff out for myself. Sometimes the people I trust get hoodwinked and pass that on. My mistake; you'd think I'd know better.

I just received this in email from a reliable source. Please feel free to copy and redistribute this post and image. My answer to the last sentence below is: "Yes. I would."

My 15 year old boy, Evan Trembley, is missing. He has been missing for now two weeks.

Maybe if everyone passes this on, someone will see this child. That is how the girl from Stevens Point was found by circulation of her picture on tv. The internet circulates even overseas, South America , and Canada etc. Please pass this to everyone in your address book. With G-D on his side he will be found.

'I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE.

It is still not too late. Please help us. If anyone knows anything, please contact me at: HelpfindEvanTrembley@yahoocom

I am including a picture of him.

All prayers are appreciated! ! '

It only takes 2 seconds to forward this.

If it was your child, you would want all the help you could get!!

Manitoba Edubloggercon: Our First Ever!

Clarence, Chris and I have been talking about this for a while and last night decided to make it happen. We may be a small community but we can do BIG PD just by getting together for some good food, folks and fun. Most of this is mirrored from Clarence's blog ... it may be time to start a new SAG (non-Manitobans, see link below). ;-)

Live in Manitoba? (or going to be in Winnipeg?)

Are you an edublogger or an edublogger lurker?

A big province and a small community of bloggers.

Time for us to get together.

Many people are in Winnipeg for the SAG conferences (if you aren't from Manitoba, don't snicker, we didn't come up with the name) on November 23rd so we think that is a perfect time to get together.

A basically blank wiki has been set up here looking for ideas. These things we know:

  • » November 23rd
  • » Winnipeg
  • » Do you have a suggestion for a place? Leave your thoughts.
  • » What about a time? Do we want an afternoon or is happy hour/evening better? You decide.

The wiki has no password set so edit away and if you have any questions, concerns or thoughts, get in touch with any of us. Contact info on the wiki.

You can reach me at: dkuropatwa [at] gmail [dot] com

Hmmm ... y'think we need a badge or something?

The K12 Online 3 Things Meme

Help us spread the word about the upcoming K12Online Conference 2007. Please share either three (3) reasons to participate based on your experience from last year or (if you didn't attend last year) three (3) things you hope to gain from the experience this year.

If you are new to memes--when you are tagged-- simply create a blog post where you link to the flickr photo below:

<img src="">

Write your 3 reasons and tag several others who will do the same thing. After you tag someone in your post, please email them to let them know so they can help spread the word.

My Three Reasons

(1) It's Free!

(2) It's "just in time". Learn what you want when you want from some of the brightest lights in 21st century learning from across the globe.

(3) Camaraderie. Connect with like minded educators from across the world. Open your eyes to new ways of teaching and learning and make friends with some of the nicest people anywhere from everywhere. The personal learning networks and friendships you form will last a life time.

Tag: You're It! (you're not really "it", it's your turn ;-) ...)

Ewan McIntosh
Alan November
George Seimens
Terry Freedman
James Farmer
Leigh Blackall

... and anyone else who would like to help us spread the word ... you're it too.

View CC license

K12 Online Webinar ... underlying pedagogies

Lani and I gave an overview of K12 Online from the perspective of developing personal learning networks. Lani made most of the slides, here they are:

There was a lively chat going on throughout our talk, which I think was the best part of the whole thing. The Discovery Educator Network hosts Webinars (seminars on the web) using WebEx software which supports a chat window for participants to talk to each other during the presentation and ask questions of the presenters. At the same time David Jakes was hosting a chatcast in skype and some folks (there were 50 people in the room at one point) were continuing the discussion over on twitter. Talk about your web 2.0 globally connected goodness! ;-)

We've also archived the presentation and various links and resources we discussed on the K12 Online 2007 Take Away Wiki. I captured the chat from the WebEx environment and archived it there. If anyone grabbed the skype chat please send it my way or drop it into the wiki yourself.

We also published a version of the presentation on Google's latest addition to the Google Docs suite, Presently (online collaborative presentation tool). While there are a number of bugs, or inconveniences, that need to be worked out of Presently (downloading a copy to your hard drive isn't straight forward, customizing slides background colour with a colour picker tool, live chat while two or more people collaborate on the doc are all features that need some improvement) it does have one very nice feature. When a presentation is published and simultaneously viewed by more than one person, live chat is automatically enabled. I hope the chat can be copied and saved, or perhaps just archived in a user's gmail account, but I really like the idea of a presentation with life after the presentation. If you head over there now, and someone else is watching it at the same time, you can chat with each other about it; live.

During the presentation I talked briefly about how using free online tools allows us control over time and space that we didn't have before. Learning can be shifted to any convenient time or space. With the the chat feature of Google Docs' new presentation tool, chatcasts can continue to be made, spontaneously. I hope if anyone does that they add the chats they create to the archive we've begun on the wiki.

This all turns around what I think are the emerging pedagogies related to teaching and learning with read/write web tools:

  • » Make thinking transparent.
  • » Publish artifacts of learning, particularly thoughts in the rough; we learn most from our mistakes.
  • » Create content and share it with the goal of educating others.
  • » Use tools that allow for shifting time and space for learning; facilitate "just in time" learning.
  • » ...

What underlying pedagogical principles to teaching with the read/write web would you add to this list?

I just checked out the google docs chat feature in Presently. The chat text cannot be selected, copied or saved. That's not good. Another inconvenience that needs to be improved. ;-)

Presently Online

Lani Ritter-Hall and I are doing a Webinar (seminar on the web) for the Discovery Educator Network. The topic is about K12 Online 2007 and building professional learning networks.

Last Tuesday we started putting our presentation together. Lani lives in Ohio, one time zone to the east of me. We really wanted to use an online slideshow/presentation tool that would allow us to build the document live; collaboratively. Today, Google announced the addition of a presentation tool to it's suite of online Google Docs. It has a chat feature built in too so you can share the url of your presentation, add audio using Google Talk and chat live while you take people through your presentation wherever they are in the world. There's even a Google Docs in Plain English video that was published on YouTube last week.

This year I'm encouraging all the teachers in my department to begin looking at ways to incorporate educational technology in their daily teaching. As a first step, I'm publishing various short instructional videos (< 5 min each) to our departmental wiki once each two weeks. We started with Social Bookmarking in Plain English. Today I added this ...

The Global Learners

They are called The Global Learners. A group of about 26 teachers from across the Adams County School District #14 in Denver. The brainchild of Joe Miller supported by the technical and pedagogical expertise of Dave Tarwater. They are teachers who teach grades 1 through 12 (students aged 6 years to 18+). Each one has a modern laptop with wireless capability, a SMARTBoard, broad access to the internet from their classrooms and the unreserved support of their Director of Assessment and Educational Technology (Joe Miller).

Joe emailed me in March of this year asking if I might be able to come to Denver some time in August. Five months later I found myself in Denver working with this exceptional group of teachers. If you want to see some real read/write web goodness in the classroom scan through some of the posts in their professional group blog Global Learner (isn't that a great name for a teacher group blog?). Then click on their names in the contributors list and see some of the amazing work they are doing with their kids and sharing with the world.

Almost from the moment I met him, Joe did something that really impressed me and set the tone for the three days I was there. I told Joe that I wanted to chatcast every presentation over the two days I would be working with the teachers. We needed to have access to skype in order to do this. Skype was blocked in his district. Joe called the person responsible for opening up skype on the district network. The reply was: "I'll try to get that done." Joe got off the phone and told me what the other fellow had said, and added: "I don't like that answer. I want it done. I'll call him back in an hour and we'll have it done today."

I invited people on my twitter network to join in the chatcasting fun. Terry Freedman (London, England) agreed to "Captain" (coordinate everyone joining the chat in skype and model best practices) the chatcast. We were also joined by Bud Hunt (Littleton, Colorado, US), Claudia Ceraso (Buenos Aires, Agentina), David Jakes (Naperville, Illinois, US), Sharon Peters (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Jan Stearns (Los Angeles, California, US), Darren Draper (Salt Lake City, Utah, US), Jose Rodriguez (Los Angeles, California, US), Lisa Durff, Hagerstown, Maryland, US), Vince Jansen (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada), Joyce Valenza (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US) and all the ACSD14 Global Learners. I can't thank you all enough for helping me model how easily we can bring a world of experts and expertise into our classrooms on a daily basis. A special shout out goes to Kathy Cassidy (Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada). One of the grade one teachers was talking to me about scaling the practices I was modeling for her students. I told her about Kathy's work and showed her Kathy's website. I suggested she email Kathy to ask her questions directly. Within 30 minutes she had contacted Kathy, received an answer, and had a skype conference call set up for a small group of the Global Learners with Kathy.

I had a twitter "aha!" moment during my time in Denver. One of the teachers was telling me about how he had used logo in the classroom some years ago. I told them logo has evolved into a new type of programming based on lego ... I couldn't remember the name; only that it began with the letter "s" and it wasn't skitch. I tweeted what I was looking for. Less than 60 seconds passed before Chris Lehmann tweeted back that I was looking for scratch. I tried to model the value of twitter by having a screen running throughout the two days at the side of the room displaying my twitter network using twittercamp. As a result of all this twittering goodness several of the Global Learners have joined the twitter community as well.

Another best practice that was, incidentally, modeled by all this was the generosity that characterizes the community of edubloggers. Several people shared their contact information on the wiki and left comments to the Global Learners about what we were learning together. Again, thank you all.

The teachers of ACSD14 are actively pursuing ways in which the many tools available for learning on the internet can positively impact the learning of the students in their classrooms. And they're not shy about pushing back if they think something is all fluff. Below are all the presentations I gave at the conference and where audio had been recorded I've made slidecasts. Listen to the audio about 90 seconds through slide #39 of "What Can I Do Now That I Couldn't Do Before?" One of the Global Learners got a little put off and pushed back a bit. We talked more at the break. We shook hands and smiled before I left Denver. ;-)

Everything (slides, video, slidecasts, chatcasts and participant reflections) is archived on the Adams County School District #14 PD Wiki. Here are the slides and slidecasts of the presentations I gave.

Tear Down the Walls.
An introduction to the two days of workshops.

Learning The Guitar or thinking about innovation in education.
A guide to thinking about using online tools in pedagogically meaningful ways with a focus on blogging.

Rip. Mix. Learn.
Another metaphor to pin pedagogical thinking on; a brief introduction to the K12 Online Conference with pointers to archived materials from last year's conference followed by participants free wheeling learning on the topic of their interest.

What Can I Do Now That I Couldn't Do Before?
Using two concrete examples (flickr and pbwiki) of using free online tools to create meaningful learning activities we discuss ways to extrapolate this kind of pedagogical thinking to any online tool.

Developing Expert Voices
Mashing up several online tools to create an assessment project that allows students to really demonstrate what they have learned. With a little creative thinking this model can be scaled across domains and age levels.


This is another test. Last year several of my students asked how they could embed flickr slideshows in their blog posts. This was dead simple and visually attractive. The photos are from my flickr account tagged summer07. They were taken in Squamish, Whistler, Mt. Hood, Seattle and Banff.

Click on the picture to advance the images or select one from the thumbnails below.

If you like this tool check out Pictobrowser.

The Global Learners ... teaser

I've been back from Denver for almost two weeks just haven't found time to blog about it all yet. It was a great experience ... but more about that later.

I had lunch with Chris Harbeck today. We talked about lots of things. He says I think too much before I write. That's why I write so little. He's probably right. Anyway, we also talked about a new site called Animoto. I'm just playing with this and decided to slap together a teaser of some of the content generated at the workshops I gave before posting it here.

Over at Animoto you select at least 10 pictures (jpg images), follow the dead simple instructions on screen to select CC music from a large list and Wham! Instant music video. Don't even need to add water.

More stuff from Denver coming soon.

Thanks for the push Chris! ;-)

I'm in Denver!

I've been invited to Denver to do a couple of days of workshops with a group of teachers in the Adams County School District #14. I'm leading the workshops over the next two days.

Following my experiences at BLC with chatcasting I'm going to try to leverage what I've learned and weave it into the talks I'm giving. I'd like to see if we can push the envelope of what was done at BLC. You're all invited to participate. Here's what I'm thinking:

Chatcasting: Extending Professional Development Through Time and Space

Every session will be chatcasted in skype. I'm going to be teaching folks to chatcast as the intro to the 2 days I'll be working with them. Terry Freedman has agreed to act as one of the "Captains" of this venture. (Thanks Terry!) If you join us, you can be a Captain too. The Captain's Job is to welcome people into the chat and act as "rudder" to keep them focused on what's going on in the presentation. Since you won't be there live, asking participants things like: "What's he saying now?" is a good way to keep them focused on the content of the presentation and to provide opportunities to challenge or elaborate on the ideas I'll be sharing. I hope to see folks playing with the ideas and pushing back a little.

The plan is to take the chatcast and dump it into a wiki. I'll send them away at the end of the day with homework:

    i Reread the chatcast.

    ii Insert questions you still have about the content.

    iii Reorganize it in any way you like, or create lists, to highlight the "big ideas" and what the "take aways" were. i.e. What was learned? What do you want to know more about?

If you're available it would be a great way to concretely illustrate how easily these tools can bring the world into the classroom.

I think the main power inherent in web 2.0 tools is the ability they give us to play fast and loose with time and space. I'm hoping this will provide a means by which the conversations we start tomorrow will extend beyond Friday and perhaps spill over into a few classrooms here in Denver.

A Bit More About The Mechanics

TwitterCamp will be running on a projector off at the side of the room. (I've already tested it out. It'll work this time.) I hope to shout out to my twitter network and have them shout back. This will model some of my ideas about using twitter in the classroom.

You only need skype to make this work. Have your twitter window open if you like but the main stage will be on skype.

If you plan to join us (at about 9:30am North American Mountain Time) search Terry Freedman on skype and request to be a contact. He'll add you into the group chat.

I'll be teaching other people in the room how to do the same so that we distribute the load across more than one person and they will teach someone and so on. Hopefully, we can sustain the methodology in future sessions independently although you're welcome to join any of those as well.

Again, you will be the "rudder" through the first chat (with any other edubloggers that join us) and I will use your "conduct" as a model for how the participants should do it themselves in the later sessions. That is, if you want to come along for the ride. ;-)

You can see the agenda on the wiki. I'll be adding to it tonight and over the next two days.

So, what do you think? Any takers? ;-)

David Jakes, the creator of the chatcast phenonmenon, confirmed he will be live in the chat tomorrow morning. This party is starting to shape up. ;-)

Eight Random Facts

I've been tagged by Wes and Chris so here they are ...

First, the Rules:

    1. Post these rules before you give your facts
    2. List 8 random facts about yourself
    3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
    4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

My Eight
    1. I like to cook Chinese food.

    2. I like to eat Chinese food even more.

    3. I put myself through University working part time as a cashier at a grocery store.

    4. I've seen Grand Canyon from the North Rim and the South Rim. Pictures don't come close to being there.

    5. Rock climbing is my favourite outdoor sport. I climb exceptionally rarely.

    6. I love Supertramp; they're kind of an English version of Harmonium. Favourite song: "Un musicien parmi tant d'autres"; brilliant lyrics.

- Harmonium Lyrics

    7. My favourite part of any meal is dessert. Boston cream pie or cannoli; I can never get enough.

    8. If I don't get my "alone time" I become a basket case.

I'm not going to tag anyone. Some folks don't like getting tagged for these things. You never can tell who would or wouldn't like being tagged; so, if you like this idea: TAG! You're it. ;-)

Mind Control

Just saw this. Woah ...

The phrase mind control more often makes me think of Derren Brown ...

BLC: What Can I Do Now That I Couldn't Do Before?

This was the second of the three presentations I gave at the Building Learning Communities conference. I thought it was the one that went over best and I don't think it was podcast or chatcast.

What I was trying to do here was show two tools, flickr and wikis. I discussed how I think about using them in a pedagogical context and how the same approach can be used to think about using any new tool.

I was up until 3am the night before preping the presentation. What was really cool was an email I received from the folks at Slideshare to tell me this slideshow was featured on their site ... 13 hours after it was uploaded; 179 views at the time. It's up to 797 as I write this.

One of the things I've written about often here is the practice I try to instill in my students of "Watch it. Do it. Teach it." The good folks at pbwiki gave me three wikis, worth $250 each, to give away. (They said I could keep one for myself but I decided to give them all away.) Slide #50 shows how I'm giving them away. I ended this presentation by saying to the teachers in the room: "You watched it. Now you'll do it. (The best three will get the wikis.) But then take it with you back to your kids and teach it."

I still have a wiki to give away so if you were in my session you can still wiki a wiki. Please email me with your flickr picture and wiki urls when you're done. The two winners of the Gold Level wikis are:

Dennis Richards and Claudia Estrada.


The audio content (my student's voices) isn't here but almost all the images are also links.

The Missing Links
Slide #39:,,

Update August 4, 2007
The winner of the final wiki-give-away is Debbie Bates. Congratulations Debbie!!

BLC: Learning the Guitar

This was the first of the three presentations I gave at the Building Learning Communities conference. If you look at slides 5 and 6 you'll get a sense of what I was trying to do with TwitterCamp and chatcasting. There are a couple of links that aren't functional in the slideshare version embeded here. I've added them at the end of this post.

Bob Sprankle (may we break bread again together soon) podcasted the presentation and Joyce, Barbara and Jeff chatcasted it. The chatcast is below but I also pasted it into a wiki David has made for all the chatcasts of the conference. Get in there and continue the conversation. There were a few points I didn't get across clearly so I plan to add my editorial comments on the BLC chatcast wiki (when David builds it).

I was pleased with the way this presentation went but we started late. We wrestled with a few technical hurdles and so rushed through the end. My closing comments would have come across better if we had watched the 5 Minute University video (linked below). I also didn't get a chance to talk about how personally I take it when other teachers do and don't use technology to amplify their student's learning. My oldest daughter started grade 1 this year. She'll graduate high school in 2020. My youngest daughter will graduate in 2026 and my son in 2016. That context is paramount for me when I watch Karl Fisch's video Did You Know? (Watch the UK remix linked below if you haven't seen it yet. Version 2.0 is good but the music isn't as viscerally affective as it is in version 1.0.)

Here's the stuff. Let me know what you think; here or on David's wiki (when it's up).

Audio (60 min 24 sec, 41.5 Mb) (with thanks to Bob)

Direct link to slideshow.

[7:54:19 AM] Barbara says: Darren is saying numbers do not matter....talks about peer teaching...asked what the optimal size is ..he says 18 to 20
    Editor's note: On further thought I think about 20-25 is closer to the ideal size.

[7:55:27 AM] Barbara says: Using feed windows to open up walls

[7:56:09 AM] Barbara says: Scribe posts are in ...forms text book...use unique course tag
    Editor's note: Actually scribe posts are on the class blog; is used to create the "footnotes" for the textbook the students are authouring.

[7:57:06 AM] Barbara says: Also has link Find out and learn how to do this yourself

[7:58:52 AM] Barbara says: Smart boards are not erased just use a new page so all pages are saved and uploaded to blog and have access to everything that happened in class

[7:59:33 AM] Barbara says: Ditto podcasts

[8:02:00 AM] Barbara says: New tools = new pedagogy

[8:02:52 AM] Barbara says: Links, tags RSS will have the biggest impact...everything can be brought together no matter where one is located.

[8:03:31 AM] Barbara says: Homeworking casting using RSS pushes out homework to the students
    Editor's note: This idea is from Doug Belshaw in the UK.

[8:03:59 AM] Jeff Utecht says: I'm back and thanks for the notes...I like what he's saying.

[8:04:27 AM] Barbara says: welcome back

[8:04:34 AM] Jeff Utecht says: :)

[8:05:00 AM] Barbara says: interested in making what he does reproducable and acalable

[8:05:28 AM] Barbara says: and sustainable

[8:06:02 AM] Barbara says: Bob Technology integrator... called out

[8:07:37 AM] Barbara says: Room 208... and others who are working on being sustainable moving from being an architect to a gardner

[8:07:47 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Like that!

[8:08:57 AM] Jeff Utecht says: How do you learn?

[8:09:28 AM] Barbara says: Audience does it do away with lectures? Answ. Some classes are group work some are tests some are lecture and next year some will be twitter lectures

[8:09:55 AM] Barbara says: Asking is Flat Classroom replicable?

[8:10:06 AM] Barbara says: Mentioned you jeff as judge

[8:11:29 AM] Barbara says: Now taking about Coming of Age and Scribe posts

[8:12:04 AM] Barbara says: Students on scribe gets to the point ...what you need and a way to teach other people

[8:12:36 AM] Barbara says: You learn it when you write may spend 2 hours on it but it is worth it

[8:13:19 AM] Barbara says: disclaimer not every kid spends 2 hours

[8:13:24 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Darren is the master of scribe posts!

[8:14:02 AM] Barbara says: I think it is an easy thing to implement but on the other hand i can't get anyone to do it in our community

[8:14:22 AM] Barbara says: Talking about students one upping which makes the posts better and better

[8:15:04 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Barbara can you model it at a staff meeting?

[8:15:27 AM] Barbara says: Good idea....duh

[8:16:00 AM] Barbara says: that will also solve my problem with getting minutes from our meetings

[8:16:09 AM] Jeff Utecht says: exactly!

[8:16:38 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Assign two teachers to take notes...have them both post so you get two different perspectives of what was said?

[8:16:57 AM] Barbara says: Audience Who chooses Hall of Fame?

[8:17:22 AM] Barbara says: Like the two tecahers unless they both think the other one will do it

[8:19:38 AM] Barbara says: Choices first made by Darren and then later by vote

[8:19:59 AM] Barbara says: Discuss with students how many votes get you in

[8:20:43 AM] Jeff Utecht says: That's a cool idea

[8:21:52 AM] Barbara says: each class discusses who can vot ie teachers, students , outside teachers, and how many votes are required. some set the bar really high some allow teachers to vote some say only students

[8:22:26 AM] Barbara says: He emphasizes that the push comes from the students

[8:23:13 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Yep...internal compatition drives us all...that's when you know you're doing real teaching when students push each other and you become a facilitator.

[8:23:21 AM] Barbara says: Times up so finishing up talking about k12 online and coming og age

[8:24:11 AM] Barbara says: Closes with blooms revised taxonomy

[8:24:19 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Cool!

[8:24:58 AM] Barbara says: End with student who says knowing someone is scribing allows you to focus on what is being said not on taking notes

[8:25:09 AM] Barbara says: signing off for a few

[8:28:12 AM] Jeff Utecht says: Thanks Barbara

[8:28:36 AM] Joyce Valenza says: I love Darren's term: twitterpating learning activities.

The Missing Links
Slide 1: Me and my new friend

Slide 4:

Slide 7: video source

Slide 18: Coming of Age

Slide 22: see version 2.0

Slide 23:, Did You Know? - UK

Slide 24: video source

Slide 29: flickr storm, Love at first sight ...

Update: July 26, 2007
Thanks to a tweet from Chris Craft I learned that Slideshare added a new functionality a few days ago; slidecasting (slideshow + podcast = slidecast). This presentation is now available as a slidecast on slideshare. They've made the tool impressively simple to use. My slides, Bob's audio; an unintended collaboration. I love when serendipity smiles. Thanks again Bob. ;-)

TwitterCamp @ BLC: The Tweet That Wasn't

I gave three different, but related, presentations at the Building Learning Communities conference. (Next post will be all about them.) I had planned to give presentations in rooms without walls; my personal riff on Playing With Boundaries. It didn't happen.

We were going to have TwitterCamp installed and displayed on a Promethean board while I showed the main presentation using a projector. The idea was to have everyone in the room join my twitter network and tweet what I was talking about interlacing their questions, concerns, compliments, complaints, confusions, uncertainties, anxieties and doubts to each other. We would have a place where I could see the tweets (making thoughts transparent) and also have others on my twitter network tweeting with their ideas and reactions as well. I was aiming for a conference without boundaries; or at least a conference with glass walls.

Lester Ray and Cyndy Everest from Apple were heroic in trying to make this work. Joyce also came to the rescue. She installed Adobe AIR and TwitterCamp on her laptop which we plugged into the Promethean Board and used another laptop where she was logged in to my email account. She accepted twitter invites from everyone in the room so that their tweets would display through my account. (Next time I do this I'll set up a unique twitter account for the conference and have people befriend the conference.)

Although everything was installed properly (at least I'm fairly confident it was) the tweets never displayed. All I got to show people was the naked skin I had created (thanks to a couple of helpful tweets from Alan Levine) without the little puffs of transparent thinking I was hoping for. Fortunately Barbara Bareda, Joyce Valenza (both in the room) and Jeff Utecht (in Seattle) chatcasted it. (I think Jeff has already published that but I will too in my next post.)

I was really proud of the skin I made. I customized it with images from my blog and one for the conference. Here's a screen shot ...