Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Global Collaboration

by Becky Ranks

My last post from NECC centers on the Keynote address on Tuesday. Lester Holt from NBC News interviewed two Canadian educators, Jim Carleton and Mali Bickley who are involved with numerous collaborations with classes from all over the world. It was a very moving presentation as they have participated in projects that have sent student made peace pigeons to Hiroshimaand have raised funds to build a high school for very needy students in Sierra Leone. NBC is involved as they have released their historical video archives for teaching and learning through a website called Hotchalk. There are numerous resources out there for global collaboration projects and many were highlighted in this keynote address.

iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is the world's largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Another, an online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action in their local and global communities. It's the world's most popular online community for young people interested in making a difference, with hundreds of thousands of unique visitors each month.

There are so many unique ways to make connections and have students realize that they can make a difference, so I hope that this will inspire everyone to look further. Start small and collaborate with students in your own district, and then think bigger to connect with students across our country and then the world.

Monday, June 30, 2008

EdTech Action Network

by Becky Ranks

Today I am writing very briefly. For those of us who care about technology and its connection to teaching and learning in our schools in Maine, it’s time for political action. Here at NECC they have made it very easy to voice our opinions about the need for continued federal funding for technology. I am including a message from the ETAN website that explains their mission.
Join a growing number of educators across the nation who are “Making Their Voice Heard” in support of education technology. ETAN provides a forum for educators and others to engage in the political process and project a unified voice in support of a common cause – improving teaching and learning through the systemic use of technology. ETAN’s mission is to influence public policy-makers at the federal, state and local levels and to increase public investment in the competitiveness of America's classrooms and students.

So, all who read this go to the ETAN site and put in your zip code. It is so easy. They have written a letter for us that will be sent to our Maine legislators, and all you have to do is fill out a quick form and send. It’s a small thing to do that will have a large impact on our schools. I am also including a photo here of the Blogger’s CafĂ©, a very busy and thriving environment in the middle of NECC.


by Deborah White

If you missed this year's FOSSED 2008 (Free and Open Source Software in Education), you might want to check out my impressions of the sessions I attended. Hopefully, it will inspire you to register for FOSSED 2009!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Constructivist Consortium at NECC

by Becky Ranks

Today I am in San Antonio, Texas at the first day of NECC. I am attending an event that really is not connected with NECC, but is a very wonderful opportunity to work with teachers from all over the country and the world. It’s called the Constructivist Consortium with Gary Stager. One hundred twenty five teachers are crammed…and I mean crammed into the little Casa Rio Restaurant in downtown San Antonio. We are about to embark on a journey of constructivist learning. At this point of the day we are watching a video of Seymour Papert debating school reform and defending the use of technology in classrooms. His vision has long been in the forefront of our discussions of professional development opportunities in Maine. He sees technology as a medium for learning…comparing it to the arts and clay as a medium for the sculptor. It makes it possible for learning to happen in a creative expressive way especially in the areas of math and science.

Some of the wonderful software we are using today: Kidspiration, Inspired Data, Microworlds EX,Animation-ish, and Stationary Studio from FableVision. At ten o’clock we are handed all of this great software and set loose to construct and create. Everyone is doing something wonderful and different. We have all day just to play and learn….what an opportunity. Could we use this as a model for professional development in Maine? Sometimes I think we do too much talking and do not give teachers the time to “construct” and “create”. But in doing this we then have to think does this kind of learning fit every learner? Some people need more direction and purpose for what they are doing, while others would flourish and thrive in this open-ended environment. Lisa Foster, Gardiner Regional Middle School’s Technology Integrator is my partner today and we are spending this 100 degree day inside in a room buzzing with creativity.

Everyone, at some point in time, should attend a national conference as it refreshes, enriches, and inspires. A whole day to just think, construct, and create is a gift worth giving. Next year NECC will be held in Washington DC…a much closer venue to New Englanders. I would highly recommend thinking about attending and do it early as this event, a pre-NECC event, sold out in two days. I hope to add another post or two this week. See you then!!