Saturday, December 20, 2008

Free Technology for Teachers

Congratulations to Western Maine teacher, Richard Byrne for winning the 2008 Edublog Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog! If you aren't already a regular visitor to Richard's site, you really owe it to yourself to see his superb work. Maine is proud of you, Richard.

How Are We Using Our Wireless Gift?

"We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein

I often forget that not all schools around our nation have wireless capabilities. In Maine, we are blessed to be the recipients of the forward-looking decisions made to create the MSLN and then the MLTI laptop program which, in turn, leveraged the creation of wireless networks in our schools and libraries. How are we using it?

Karl Fisch of "Did You Know" fame makes an excellent case for the importance of WIFI in schools here.

Questions: How are we using our WIFI capabilities? Is it transforming our school model or just a distraction of the status quo?

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." - Alvin Toffler

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Hit the Road, Jack"

I know that many would disagree, but more and more, every day, I am finding YouTube and Wikipedia to be the most wondrous tools for learning. More and more, authority-based information, filtered by established elite, seems highly over-rated if not even of questionable validity.

Yes, I do know the warnings . . . from librarians, educators, and the keepers of the firewall and holy scripts - but, you know what - the genie is out of the bottle, the cat is out of the bag, the apple of consciousness has been eaten. We are no longer in Eden. We are simply in denial if we pretend that we can put the lid back on Pandora's box and everything will be as it was before. It is now a different game, and we need to learn the new rules and how to ethically work and play within this changed narrative.

YouTube is being used by many as a vehicle to develop their talents by sharing and building specialized communities. We all need audiences and encouragement in some form or another.

An example: Ulli Bogershausen is a famous German solo guitarist and teacher of guitar. He is an inspiration to South Korean child guitar prodigy, Sungha Jung,. YouTube, mentoring, the circle of life continues . . .

Sungha Jung's MySpace Page

What do you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

ArtReach at Telstar Middle

Last Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to observe part of the ArtReach project at Telstar Middle School that this year is centering its work and learning on helping to support the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg. Under the leadership of art teacher, Melissa Prescott, students had earlier visited the shelter, interviewed the staff, and created a polished video documenting the experience using the laptop iMovie program. The evening events started with a presentation of the documentary and then continued with an auction of donated works of art by area artists as well as the sale of student art with school superintendent, David Murphy, acting as auctioneer. Subsequently, student musicians, under the leadership of Tom Coolidge, performed for the audience.

There are great connections here. It is a powerful model for what education should be all about, with the integration of real-world needs, community involvement, citizenship, empowering technology, inspired teachers, and engaged students. Congratulations, Telstar!

Sun Journal Article
Melissa Prescott's Classroom Project Blog
Melissa's Art Portaportal
Digital Storytelling
Video 1 Workshop
Video 2 Workshop