Saturday, December 29, 2007

What technology will my child see in his lifetime?

A conversation with my father sparked this post. Today Dad was introduced to the Nintendo wii bowling game. For those unfamiliar with the system, a player straps a remote to her/his wrist and then becomes an active player in virtual sports. The remote serves as a tennis racket, a golf club, a bat... or with some add ons, boxing gloves, steering wheels.... the list goes on! A sensor bar on or below the tv "reads" the player's movements. So, using the remote, my dad was bowling in our living room.

Do you remember this??? The old Atari that allowed us to play games like Pitfall and Pong.

And this???

With each new entertainment or computer system that came into our home I can remember thinking...."this is so cool! It can't get better than this!" and with each advancing system the images became clearer and more vibrant, more engaging, more user friendly, more entertaining! I wonder what is coming next. In the 80s I would never have been able to wrap my head around the concept of a virtual environment, like Second Life, or the virtual gaming of the Nintendo wii! What technology will my child see in his lifetime?

From records, 8 tracks, cassettes, and CDs to mp3s and ipods.... what is next?

I can't even imagine, but I can't wait to find out! What do you think??

BTW, images are from wikipedia.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Juggling 21st Century Skills and PSSAs

Teachers face many challenges. The world is a rapidly changing place (understatement) and we sometimes find ourselves scrambling to keep the pace. I've been devouring books lately, audio and print, and have been really intrigued by the comparisons between 20th and 21st century skills. The above diagram outlines the skills I am referring to and is linked to its source which gives more detailed information.

NCLB has brought about state level standards and testing which require attention as well! As I sit in trainings about these skills, some wonder how teachers are to incorporate these 21st century skills in light of the testing. I do not see these as separate. Let me explain, using third grade as my example.

For me the standards set the curriculum but not HOW I teach. Therefor I can create lessons which encourage cooperation, collaboration, higher level thinking, and technology as I address the standards. Last quarter my students were to learning about ecosystems in Science. Rather than just read the book, complete the worksheets and activities, and recite the information back on a test..... we used a wiki.

On this webpage (Wiki) I placed links to sites dealing with the various ecosystems we were studying so each ecosystem had about 4 sites. This way my students were using the internet as a research tool. In small teams students had to explore the sites in order to be able to report back plant and animal life, as well as climate of their ecosystem. All notes were kept in an inspiration template. Each group created a poster of their ecosystem and "taught" us about their ecosystem. This was a mini jigsaw activity.

I was exploring with voicethread at the time and did not have parent permissions for students to participate, so I created a voicethread as a study guide for them. The next time I do this activity I will still have students create posters, but we will scan them. The scanned images would be used to make a class voicethread.

Ah, yes, PSSAs.... the test I used was written in multiple choice format so that students learn how to take that type of test. Grades, yes... I used students' work on the project and the test for determining a grade.

I know we get overwhelmed, but there are ways to address the curriculum by using 21st century skills. I feel that is important because these are the skills that our students will need in the world. If you made it this far, thanks! Here is a spot where a group of us are talking about teaching these skills.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

CFF Hearings

As I was sitting down to catch up on some email last night, I saw on Twitter that PCN was showing senate hearings on the CFF project. As I tuned in I really was at a loss. I had some many thoughts swirling around in my brain. I really wanted to discuss what I was watching. I put a message out on twitter that I was also watching the hearings and was looking to chat about it. One of my mentors from Keystones (and a CFF coach very in tune with educational technology issues) opened a skype chat. She and I were typing furiously, sharing ideas and opinions when another Keystone joined the conversation!
Yes, I know I am a geek, but more than that, I am a connected geek! Everything that I just described happened within ten minutes or so. Three PA educators were having a discussion about the state of educational technology and technology integration issues in PA.
How often have we watched shows or read books and can't wait to get involved in the lunchroom discussion, wondering what others thought of that episode of Lost? By using technology these types of chats, or backchannels, can happen in a timely fashion.
As for the content of the hearings, I am going to be looking for a blog entry on that from The Connected Classroom.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

CFF Training on the APPLE Side

This training consisted of how - tos, technology integration in action, and theory behind 21st century skills. We also practiced coaching! We were given a piece of paper (the only paper we used during the entire two day..everything else was digital) and asked to make a paper airplane. We flew our planes. My plane took a nose dive! We paired up with someone whose plane went really far and then the "expert" helped us improve our planes. The expert was not allowed to touch our planes. Through guided practice, verbal and visual directions, my plane flew across the room the second time. Needless to say, the time "flew."