Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ways to Tell a Story

Alan Levine's 50 Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story
Jason Ohler's Digital and Traditional Storytelling
Digital Storytelling Resources
Idea Generators
Writing Prompts
Storyboarding Resources
Video Resources

21st Century Skills in Maine

This past summer Maine joined the National Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

While many people are celebrating this initiative, Gary Stager has another take on it. He argues that there is nothing new to these skills, that they've always been important, and aren't anything that couldn't be done without computers. He also points out that this is being sponsored and pushed by large corporations who also support NCLB. Read Stager's article, "Apparently This Group of Tech Execs Has as Crystal Ball," here.

What do you think? Does Stager have a point or is this perhaps just an example of keynote speaker opportunism? How legitimate is the Partnership? Is it yet another of a long history of glossy attempts by large corporations to further their interests in the marketplace while failing to consider our disintegrating culture and lack of an adequate social safety net for our citizens?

Twenty-first Century Skills Resources


I've been watching a fascinating show on Ovation TV with George Martin called Rhythm of Life.

The idea is that there is rhythm everywhere there is life. Rhythm in everything.

Confession: I've always thought that the arts should be considered the true "basics" of school curriculum instead of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic.

What do you think - is a sense of rhythm important in children's lives? Is a sense of rhythm important in adult lives?

One obvious change that has taken place in my lifetime is that schedules are not cast in stone to the degree that they were in Pleasantville. The family eating together at a set time every evening is much less common now than a couple of generations ago. We now have cable, VCR's and DVD's and TIVO's that can shift programming times that wasn't possible earlier. The number of choices has expanded at an exponential rate so that the type of common daily experiences that tie together our culture has changed radically . . . and perhaps decreased. How does this effect community and human character?

A couple other questions: Is there a rhythm in digital technology and our online experiences? If there is a rhythm, how is it different?

Rhythm Resources

Technology Education Blog . . .

Check out Scott Hall's comments on the ACTEM 2007 conference at his blog called Technology Education.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Sharon's Share

Check out Sharon's Share Blog (Sharon Betts) for reviews and information on this year's ACTEM Conference.

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The Cool Cat Teacher

Check out the Cool Cat Teacher Blog. Vicki A. Davis has information from her sessions at the ACTEM Conference.

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Web 2.0 with Becky & Olga - Blogs & Wikis

I am still on the floor in a room that is overflowing with delightful educators, checking out a presentation of web 2.0 tools by Becky Ranks and Olga LaPlante. We are watching a TeacherTube vid by a lady called Allanah.

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Becky is presenting some down-to-earth examples of blogs created by teachers and students.

Olga speaks of the advantages of RSS and blogs.

More: Blogging in Education

Next . . . review the advantages of wikis.

More: Wiki Resources


Viewed a Bob Spankle talk on Podcasting

More: Podcasting and Education

Examples of VoiceThread


More: Online Classroom Environments

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More of a comment

by Olga LaPlante

When Will Richardson was talking about teaching students to how to use iPhones, and networking, and that expecting each student by a certain date not to have one of those toys in their pocket at all times, and riding in a wireless cloud to search for information was simply put unreasonable - well, am I misreading this, but what about overdependence on these toys - remember, like a tamagotchi that dies when left unattended for a few hours? I am overreacting? Am I missing some other essential skills that are being developed even though on the surface it looks like we are just using those toys to rely on someone to have answers ready for us?

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A Teacher's Thoughts - Reflections on Wikis Across the Curriculum

Check out Rich Biche's blog for reflections on ACTEM sessions.

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Arrogance vs Supreme Confidence?

by Ed Latham

If you have ever been taught something by a very experienced person with many insights, you may have been left with some extreme feelings. As soon as we approach an "authority" we naturally start measuring up the content to find its personal worth. There is a more subtle assessment that is made as well. As soon as we establish that the content being offered is worthwhile, there seems to be a natural inclination for people to establish whether the presenter is being arrogant or is very confident in the material. Many people do not see things black or white, and frequently we leave training opportunities with a feeling that people are somewhere in between. I have attended many presentations and in the debriefing conversations I have listened and participated in sharing sessions with peers in which the most heated feelings were centered around the presentation rather than the content. What actions or attitudes help us to delineate between arrogance and confidence? Here are some definitions to soak up first...



We are all presenters in our positions as educators. In our professional development experiences we have all run into presenters that almost exemplify either extreme. I think that by discussing these positive and negative traits, many of us can internalize and start analyzing how we come across to other people. What traits do confident presenters give off that arrogant ones do not and vice versa?

Today is the 20th annual ACTEM conference and people will be seeing many presenters. Grab all the content and experience you can get from this great experience, but I ask you to look at the traits the presenters have and try to relate those to your overall feelings during your reflections later this evening. Why did this presenter leave you feeling upbeat, angry, disappointed, energized or may you just felt lost?

No presenter starts out their morning saying, "Well they paid me a boat load of cash so I might as well go out there and tick some people off today .... hmmm how might I do that?" So with that in mind, please DO NOT post any specific names or "That guy that presented the snake dancing thing.." Instead keep your posts concentrating on the properties of the presentations that left you feeling that the presenter was arrogant or confident.

I am anxious to learn from everyone how we all view these two feelings that presenters often leave us with!

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ACTEM 2007 Conference Notes to Share - Friday

This is a space for comments on the ACTEM MaineEducation 2007 Technology Conference. Click on "comments" below and share your observations and thoughts.

A Web of Connections: Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just a thought...

by Olga LaPlante

I am sitting here at the ACTEM Pre-conference workshop, listening to people presenting high school stuff - suggesting some techniques, but also providing a lot of research data.

One of the presenters said, “We know more about what our students CAN’T do, and very little about what they CAN do.”

This is very true - I think back to this past spring, and the art show by the PATHS students. They had their work for show and sale downstairs at the PATHS building. I went there in the hope to find some piece of art that I would both like and be able to afford. What I found was beautiful talented work by one of my former French language students, - I had no idea! Not only she did a good job, but she actually painted in the style I so much enjoy. We actually had much more in common than I could have ever imagined, and would not have known otherwise!

Message - it’s important to connect beyond classroom and textbook. It’s often a matter of time, though. Thinking outside the box can help use class time to discover students’ talents, interests and such.

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CAST - Universal Design for Learning at ACTEM Pre-Conference

I'm blogging from the CAST presentation. Fascinating! We are working through neural paths and strategies used that are dependent on a question asked about a visual. Aside: Check out MusicNotes Player software.

We are now looking at representations of 3-dimensional space in 2 dimensions. Hmmmmm. . .reminds me of SketchUp.

Point: Focus on strengths of students rather than their weaknesses.

Analyzing Visual . . . Multiple Ways

What is here?
Do you see this? Tracking.
What is happening here? Comes from within.

Multiple Means of Engagement, Marco Torres, FlickSchool

Remember the three Principles

Multiple Means of Expression to increase recognition
Multiple Means of Expression to expand strategic abilities
Multiple Means of Engagement to enhance involvement

Story written in 1902: Monkey's Paw. Vocabulary is an issue for students. How do we approach? Many methods of working on this are being presented.

Resources: “Be Careful What You Wish For” PowerPoint;
Supporting, Engaging and Enhancing Comprehension for Students in High School (SEEC)

Little Known Features of Microsoft Word
Read, Write, Think
Web 2.0 Tools: diigo and Voice Thread

Supporting Literacy: Transforming Text
Resources: FireFox w/ ClickSpeak
Supported Reading Software; Etext Resources on the Web Commercial Etext;
Audacity – Text to MP3
Audacity online tutorial:

CAST: Teaching every Student

CAST eText Resources (Word)

CAST Math Resources (Word)

Supporting High School Math: Representation, Expression & Engagement
Resources: Interactivate!

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Feel free to comment below by clicking the "comments" link. What are your thoughts?

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Design your own training retreat!

by Ed Latham

Every year there are many professional development activities that teachers can go to and learn things. After every one of those, I have had debriefing with peers about the goods/bads/uglys from that experience and that reflection time is great. How often do you actually get to act on that reflection though? Well, here is your chance. Some of the people that read this blog are very influential people that help set up trainings, presentations, and retreats all over the state of Maine. They would love to hear from us about what things we value at trainings. Many teachers have stated they want "something they can actually bring back to their classroom". That is a great ambition, but specific suggestions are much more helpful in getting teachers what they want. Some people may not be sure what to ask for. Please offer anything you want as there are absolutely no negative consequences to posting your wish list. Realize that every single one of the presentation directors out there want to provide the best learning resource for teachers to use. They need input from you so PLEASE post your ideas!

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ACTEM Conference 2007 Chatter - Pre-Conference

This is a space for comments on the ACTEM MaineEducation 2007 Technology Conference. Click on "comments" below and share your observations and thoughts.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Learning in Maine Show

Here's a link to Show


PC Magazine


cara·van· (kar′ə van′) (noun) 1.a company of travelers, esp. of merchants or pilgrims traveling together for safety, as through a desert. 2. a number of vehicles traveling together. 3. a large covered vehicle for passengers, circus animals, gypsies, etc.; van. 4. Brit. a mobile home or trailer

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word caravan, other than the Dodge Caravan, is the vision of the travelers on the silk road with perhaps a few camels thrown in for good measure. Dangers lurk everywhere.

But at Oxford Hills Middle School, a team of teachers has a tradition of using the caravan theme as a way of exploring countries around the world. Yesterday and today I have been presenting new tools that help to empower students and teachers in their explorations. This includes tools that help to find, evaluate, organize, process and present information.

It works like this: I spend a couple days in the classroom of one of the teachers on the team. As the kids cycle through his classroom from other classes on the team, I get the opportunity to not only show them some of these powerful tools, but the teacher gets to see the presentation 5 times. I'll also attend a planning period with all teachers on the team to repeat the work one more time. Doing this repeatedly creates a critical mass of people on the team who are fluent in the tools and thus greatly improves the chances of it being seriously used for curriculum projects. A simple model for encouraging integration.

The agenda for sessions included:

1. How to make a PDF and attach it to an email.
2. The wonders of MARVEL - making use of it for the Caravan Project
3. The Powers of Noteshare - how to use it for the Caravan Project
4. Setting up back-up server access for students.

Great fun! The kids are so quick to pick it up . . . and are enthusiastic to start making use of it in their projects.

Making a PDF on a Mac
MARVEL - Maine's Virtual Library
Noteshare Resources

Teaching in 1947 . . . "The Fun They Had"

Read "The Fun They Had" by Isaac Isimov, and then view this old teacher training film. Discuss.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Character Series: Humility

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children." ~ Kahlil Gibran

"Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box." ~ Italian proverb
How do we model humility?

Humility Resources

Character Series: Responsibility

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say” ~ Martin Luther
Are we teaching our children to be responsible?

Responsibility Resources

Rights and Responsibilities Resources

Monday, October 8, 2007

October = Professional Development Without Borders

by Michael Richards

This is a great month for teaching and technology
in terms of professional development. There are two big events coming up, the K12 Online Conference and ACTEM's MAINEd Conference. Each of these events offer educators and administrators a lot to think about when it comes to teaching with technology.

Today kicked off the
K12 Online Conference with David Warlick's keynote address "Inventing the New Boundaries" and tomorrow will be a follow up to the keynote with a fireside chat. Over the next few weeks the conference will have sessions for a wide range of educators as well as a wide range of ability levels. Last year's conference was very well received and this year's is already setting the bar even higher. The great part of this conference is the fact that it is free and the sessions can be viewed at anytime from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Check out the teasers for sessions to find something you may want to check out later. The complete schedule with blogging tags can be found here.

At the end of the week ACTEM is sponsoring their 20th annual MAINEd Conference. Everything kicks off Thursday afternoon with pre-conference sessions. Will Richardson and Vicki Davis are each running a session (New Web Technologies Transforming Education and Wikis in Curriculum respectively) as well as other sessions from some great people. The next day there are some great sessions following Will Richardson's keynote address that address the needs of educators and administrators from Maine. If you're not able to make the conference people will be blogging and podcasting sessions so you can always attend virtually. If you're attending and plan on sharing your experiences please use technorati tags ACTEM MAINEd07 in your posts to help people track conversations through hitchikr. I've developed session tags based off the conference sessions that can be accessed here.

The only excuse one might have for not getting involved would be time. Even that excuse is negated by the fact you can follow these sessions through RSS feeds. This allows the user to have a professional development on demand experience, a very powerful 21st Century opportunity. You just need to take the first step and enjoy the ride.

tags technorati :

I like a day off as well as anyone does, but ...."Why?"

by Ed Latham

Warning: The views represented in this post are mine and are not being forced on anyone. I offer only some thoughts and observations and of course the question of "Why?"

Today is Columbus Day here in the states. It is a federal holiday in which many non-essential services are shut down and the state and government people get a day off. I like day's off so posting this post is hard for me to do, but here we go.

I like to ask questions as anyone in my family would be quick to tell you. Three year old toddlers love to ask, "Why?" and some in my family try to draw mental age connections to my constantly questioning "the way things are." As a teacher, I have always enjoyed the long weekend holidays that seemed to be nicely sprinkled throughout the school year. What a nice time to rest and relax while recharging my internal batteries to keep my energies and spirits up.

As a child, I realized that a day named after a person must mean that the person did something pretty awesome to have the whole nation recognize his/her achievements. Martin Luther King was an easy sell for me as I immediately saw the impact that man had on all of our society even today. Over the years I have come to study each of these one day holidays and the importance they have on our society. We have parades, there are special sporting events, and local towns all have little activities set up for most of these one day (almost always on a Monday) holidays. We also have president's day which lumps together Lincoln and Washington into a little celebration of some important people. Since Lincoln and Washington were not important enough to give each one a day I really thought this Columbus dude was going to be something special. I was floored when it came to Columbus Day!

History Notes... so that people can't say this post is totally without educational merit . President Benjamin Harrison issued that the country should observe a day for Mr. Columbus way back in 1892 (400 years after the landing). The Knights of Columbus took up that charge and helped to get October 12th as a legal holiday. As early as 1907 states started adopting that date as a holiday and on 1909 New York mayor Charles Evans Hughes started a parade up.

Like all youth, I started off asking my parents and my teachers what Chris was so important for. I got many renditions, almost like a mantra, that he was responsible for discovering the New World which lead to the formation of the U.S. Hmmm....that sounded important, so I dug deeper and asked for reading material. Many of the books seemed to state almost the exact same point of view and almost the same text. A few sources seemed to hint that Chris was not exactly a philanthropist and in fact may have been a down-right nasty person. Digging deeper, I found sources that backed up that nasty personality and I learned that Chris was a Portuguese slave trader with a very bad temper. Mr. Columbus was looking to expand his trade product looking to get into more valuable cargo like spices and of course all that legendary gold ... ahhh that true business spirit was alive and well even back then.

Directly, there is data that links Columbus's crew with the forced assimilation of at least one native population (the Tainos of the Bahamas region). Indirectly, the diseases that were home-brewed in the overpopulated Europe and introduced by Colubus's voyage managed to wipe out much of the native population. By some estimates, 80% of the existing population of the New World was destroyed by Christopher Columbus's "incredible discovery".

I love to study history and I have always been appalled with the way the United States has dealt with the native populations here on these chunks of land. I see our continued celebration of Columbus Day as not only an unworthy event to celebrate, but it seems that our culture has established a mantra that only promotes a positive outlook on what has historically been, at best, a wash.

Many had come to the "New World" before Columbus, but Chris was the first to really push for continued funding to help push a country to consider a full scale expansion (invasion?) into this region which had been mostly left alone. I am sure that someone else would have done it if Christopher Columbus had not got all the fame. I am against our continued celebration of such a controversial event.

In our politically charged society, we would not think once about electing someone to federal office that had a rap sheet like our buddy Mr. Columbus did; never mind make up a federal holiday for the bum. The exploits of Columbus's crew against the native population makes even Bill Clinton's escapades with an intern look like child's play. Why then do we perpetuate this holiday? Certainly, there are more worthy men/women in our history that have impacted our lives in much more positive ways! Two gentlemen that come right to mind are Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison. I am not sure if you have looked up these crusty old salts, but if you do, you will be absolutely amazed at the influence these two people had on our way of life even today.

Most shocking of all is what I see in our classrooms. Entire units are set up, and many hours are spent with children celebrating Columbus Day. All with the mantra of celebrating "the discovery of the New World". Students dress up and perform plays. Posters and in-class feasts are frequently observed. If I were a descendant of a people that originally called this land home, I would be pissed. Actually, I guess I do get a little hot under the collar and I am not even a "victim". Especially in our schools, institutions founded to educate people, I would hope to at least see some moderation or something other than the joys of discovery mantra.

Some schools have been able to shift the focus of celebrations from Columbus over to the bounty of harvest that is in full swing in many regions at this time of year. I know that idea muscles in on Thanksgiving's fame, but at least celebrating the fall harvest is something that can be educationally supported from most every angle ( I know some environmental people could argue something here, but we could argue about almost anything).

Some schools have been able to focus on the importance of exploration and explorers at this time of year. That's cool. We have so much of life we still don't know about and even here on Earth there are depths of the ocean we still don't know about. Students need to learn about why exploration is dangerous and important to our society. Looking at collections of explorers that may include Chris...well I could support that.

In the meantime, I will finish enjoying my day off and wait until spring, when we run into some other bizarre cultural celebrations : )

How about you? Are there national/state/local celebrations that have made you scratch your head and ask "... I wonder why?"

Universal Design: A Teacher's Perspective

Want a fresh, enthusiastic voice . . . a Maine teacher who is passionate about her work, yet grounded in the realities of the classroom? Check out Amanda Leavitt's blog that is called Universal Design: A Teacher's Perspective. You will discover a teacher's thoughts and feelings about bringing in the new while at the same time being cognizant of the value of the traditional.

It is an important topic on which we need to have many more conversations. Amanda is asking essential questions which all too often are not considered.

What is important? When does technology empower and when does it enslave? How do I responsibly make changes in the status quo? What kind of risks am I willing to take?

Universal Design Resources

Caterpillar Hunter in New Orleans

Sarah Farnham, a science teacher at Winslow Junior High School, was part of an Earthwatch Expedition to New Orleans.

Sarah's Blog
Live from the Field
Behind the Scenes of Hunting for Caterpillars
Teaching Live from New Orleans
Earthwatch Institute
Can Global Warming Cause Caterpillar Outbreaks?
Climatic Unpredictability and Parasitism of Caterpillars: Implications of Global Warming

Universal Access to Human Knowledge!

by Ed Latham

Have you ever wondered how to start a podcast? How about how to reduce a fraction to its lowest terms? Of course you are just dying to learn how to play the violin as well, right?

I have a few sites that may be useful for educators and some of these might not be filtered at your schools!!!!

Please note I am including free resources only. I know there are many very nice resources out there that offer tons of content, but I morally avoid those services as I strongly believe that resources (including apps on school computers) should be free for k-12 education! O.K. enough with the soap box, let's get to the movies...

Internet Archive
: A collection of videos about many different topics. Some computer related stuff like iMovie and some more academic stuff like working with fractions. This is not a very friendly site so for total novices hit some of the other links below.

Teacher Tube: If you need a video lesson done up for some subject matter, it's probably already done for you here. Also some cute stuff posted by teachers to help us all laugh a bit. If you wish to record some of your lessons and post them ... this is the site to do it as teachers all over the world check into this site all the time... you could be famous!

University Texas: Many colleges are setting up video tutorials for staff and students. This site has many goodies that people often ask for help with.

I am sure there are tons of resources out there so feel free to add more to the list. PLEASE limit your offerings in this post to "how to" resources (videos are best). The other restriction is that the materials must be freely available; no trial offers or any of that nonsense!

Those of us that just compile tons of links without actually spending time at each link, I would encourage you to look through the link with the following mindset.

"I want to learn how to use/do X and I have only heard about it."

Please post only links that you would actually use or offer to family to help them learn how to independently use some application. I am anxious to see all the cool resources people have found out there.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

iBook Roll Out 2007

by George Crawford

This is the sixth year that the 7th and 8th grade students at the Jonesboro Elementary School have had their MLTI iBooks provided by the state. This past Monday we had our annual parent and student meeting on the iBooks. The purpose of this meeting is to "show off" the iBooks and what they can do to parents. We also talk to the parents and the students about the rules of the use of the iBooks and some of the possible pitfalls of not following the rules.

This year we had almost all of our 18 7th and 8th graders. I showed the parents and students the software on the iBooks including Google Earth, GarageBand, iMovie, and Microsoft Office that we have. I also showed them some of the 'freebies" that I added. These were open source programs that I learned about after attending the FOSSED conference this summer.

Stellarium, a planetarium software was added along with Celestia for astronomy. I also added Smell-o-Mints, an interactive periodic table software and also AbiWord for word processing. I also showed an iMovie done by one of last year's 8th graders that showed how his brother lost a canoe joust.

The getting of an iBook has become a "rite of passage" for our 7th graders and they look forward to this. It is not as much a novelty as they were 5 years ago but the 7th graders still feel that it is important.

We also are dealing with the issue of students taking home their iBooks this year. I am still waiting for our School Committee to pass my take home policy. The students are excited about the prospect of taking home their laptops and I am a bit nervous as the Technology Coordinator. Other schools through the ACTEM list have indicated that the laptops going home on the whole are successful.

Things to Think About:

How does your school "roll out" their MLTI laptops to students?

What are some of the benefits and pitfalls of the MLTI laptops?

How can my school minimize problems from the laptops?

What is my school's laptop take home policy if they have one?

What can the high school MLTI learn from the middle school program and how can the middle school project share ideas locally with the high school?

What are the benefits of one to one computing in schools and what are the pitfalls?

A Day in the Lives . . .

Three things that continue to perplex me:

1. How many people there are who don't know how to copy/paste.

2. How many Maine citizens there are who are totally unaware of MARVEL.


3. How many who are still unaware of the powerful learning that is taking place at the Skowhegan Area Middle School using a project-based philosophy.

Recently Apple spent some time doing interviews and documenting the happenings at SAMS in order to create a video for their site. Check out this Skowhegan gem: Our Town Skowhegan Maine And this one: Archives. And don't forget this: Skowhegan Downtown Revitalization Project.

Additional information at MaineLearns

For still more information, email Laura Richter

Related Resources:

Essential Questions
Digital Storytelling
Critical Thinking
Cooperative Learning
Process Skills
Inquiry Learning