Author Archives: Anne Davis

About Anne Davis

My name is Anne Davis. I work at Georgia State University in the Instructional Technology Center in the College of Education. I work with faculty, staff, and students in the area of instructional technology. This EduBlog is a place to reflect, discuss, and explore possibilities for the use of weblogs in education.

Learning from others

On the Yahoo Groups list for classblogmeister Lorraine from New Zealand shares her reflection templates to use in blogging. She was inspired by reading Konrad’s post and has created a post/article reflection and a comment reflection.  Her link led me to a great wiki that contains excellent info on their collaborative learning community. I really like this wiki. Thanks Lorraine for taking the time to share!  Keep up the great work! And as you know, one link leads to another – here’s her blog. It’s a good read, too! One post was about the danger of embedded links. Look at the comments to see how our community responds! Here’s her follow up post on this issue. And of course I have always been a fan of SlideShare. Look how they address the dilemma here. I second Lorraine’s “thumbs up” to SlideShare.

Research frustrations, joys, and further thoughts

iBreadCrumbs is a free online tool that helps users record and share research. What is really cool is that this tool was developed by two college graduates, Reuben Fine and Rey Marques. They had become frustrated by the inefficiency and redundancy of gathering research. See Campus Technology for further reading about this intriguing tool. It is interesting tool that I will be following. I’ll be curious to see how professors and others conducting research will use this tool. If anybody knows of similar tools, please let me know.

Reading about this tool prompted me to think about how much I am learning this past year. It is ever frustrating to not immediately share my “inconclusive” thoughts. The problem is that these “inconclusive” thoughts need to be reflected upon and studied from different perspectives. You examine different areas comprehensively and then have to step back and mull it over. Most times, this type of reflection points you to a totally different pat or way of needing to take a closer look at what is happening. You begin again.

There are many frustrations that surface for me daily. I still don’t know just what I can share and what I can’t as I learn. One corner of this community urges me to just get it out there, another says no, finish studying what happened so there will be accuracy and validity in the findings. Results are inconclusive at this stage. Basically I agree with that but I find myself in an arena where I am constantly unsure of the rules. I don’t want to be a risk taker at this point. Too much is at stake. Yet being silent is so hard! I know I don’t have enough knowledge or experience in this area to judge. Yet I do judge but I am quiet for now with that judging. I have to keep learning so my conclusions on my view of research will “feel right” for me to follow. I d rail at the amount of time research takes, the closed aspects of the research process, the way it ends up not being readily available to every interested party, and it even appears that you lose ownership (I’m talking about ownership to share verbatim) as far as just sharing it “word-for-word” after it is published!

Then the publishing aspect itself is quite a time consumer as you submit articles, wait a month or two, get accepted or rejected, revise, head off to another publisher, work on several pieces at once, etc.

Now those are some of my frustrations but I have much, much joy being involved with this research. I know it is going to be something I will be proud to have a part in contributing to our community. I don’t think I have ever examined anything in more depth. I wish teachers could have opportunities to participate in this kind of learning but realize how impossible this would be for them currently, mainly because of time constraints and few opportunities during the work day to truly invest in their own learning. This could send me off on another rant about treating teachers as professionals but I’ll get to that on another post.

Digging deeply into the accumulated data has given me a new lens with which to view the learning that occurs through blogging. It is inspiring. It has forged a path full of twists and turns that lead to further learning, further examining, and further questions. It is exciting and so very worthwhile. It leads you down a trail of focused thinking on what matters. I think that’s the joy of doing research – making those discoveries and having your thinking pushed in incredible ways.

Meanwhile I have read some of the most fascinating and interesting research around, and that I can share so I will do that in future posts.

This is the kind of learning in which I’d like to see our students have more opportunities. They need to be able to do a little research on their own learning and feel that their choices on learning and their strengths are being honored. We need to guide and encourage that. We spend too much time in our classrooms telling students what they need to learn. We direct and we supervise. We need to empower them by getting them involved in making choices and decisions for some of their own personal learning in schools. They need time to learn what matters to them and go off on a journey where they construct the knowledge and have joy in the journey. Meaningful learning will occur as a result of their making those choices and decisions. Meaningful learning will not occur just by following directions on what to learn being decided totally by others.

K12 Online Conference 2008

Amplifying Possibilities

I love the above theme for this year’s K12 Online Conference 2008. I am duplicating the call for proposals below so read it carefully and get on board! I will surely miss Lani Ritter Hall as one of the conveners but welcome Dean Shareski on board. So I extend a warm thank you to Lani, Dean, Darren, Sheryl, and Wes! The dedicated and hard work of the conveners (past and present) is so very much appreciated!

This conference is second to none and really exhibits the spirit of what our community is all about – sharing, caring, seeing possiblilities, providing top notch professional development, stretching, imagining, promoting, modeling, networking, and truly pushing us to new understandings.

I like the “tweaking” of the strands – great focus! So read the “call for proposals” below and remember….

the possibilities are limitless!!

We are pleased to announce the call for proposals for the third annual “K12 Online Conference” for educators around the world interested in the use of web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year’s
conference is scheduled for October 20-24 and October 27-31 of 2008, and will include a pre-conference keynote during the week of October 13. The conference theme for 2008 is “Amplifying Possibilities.”
Participation in the conference (as in the past) is entirely free. Conference materials are published in English and available for worldwide distribution and use under a Creative Commons license. Some changes in the requirements for presentations are being made this year and are detailed below. The deadline for proposal submission is June 23, 2008. Selected presentations will be announced at NECC 2008 in San Antonio, Texas, USA on July 2.

OVERVIEW:

As in past years, K12 Online 2008 will feature four “conference strands,” two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day,
Monday through Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two weeks. Including the pre-conference keynote, a total of 41 presentations will be published. Each twenty minute (or less) presentation will be shared online in a downloadable format and released simultaneously via the conference blog (www.k12onlineconference.org,) the conference Twitter account, and the conference audio and video podcast channels. All presentations will be archived online for posterity. A total of 82 past presentations are currently available from K12 Online 2006 and K12 Online 2007.


If you are planning to submit a proposal, please review archived presentations from past years to determine what you might offer that is new and builds on previous work. A variety of live events will also be planned during and following the weeks of the conference.

FOUR STRANDS:

Week 1

Strand A: Getting Started

Everything you wanted to know about getting started with web 2.0 technologies for learning but were afraid to ask. The presentations in this strand will focus on specific, free tools for newcomers. Whether you have one classroom computer or a laptop for every student, digital technologies can provide new opportunities to connect with other learners, create new and exciting knowledge products, and engage students in an expanded learning process beyond the traditional “boundaries of the bell.”


Teachers first introduced to Web 2.0 tools are often unaware of the new
possibilities for teaching and learning afforded by the Read/Write Web.
Presentations in this strand will amplify and model what is possible in terms of pedagogy, student creation of content, and collaboration. Practical classroom implementation ideas will be emphasized. Presentations will focus more on the ways new tools can be used to engage students in learning, rather than focusing exclusively on how specific tools are used. If you’ve ever felt like everyone else knows more than you about teaching with technology and you need help getting started, this is the strand for you.

Strand B: Kicking It Up a Notch

You’ve been using blogs, wikis and other technologies for awhile but perhaps
haven’t seen them transform your classroom and the learning environment for your students in the ways you think they can. This strand amplifies ways new technologies can be used to transform classroom and personal learning. Rather than merely replicating traditional, analog-based learning tasks, how can digital technologies permit teacher-leaders to “infomate” learning to add greater interactivity, personal differentiation, and multi-modal exploration of curriculum topics?


Fresh new approaches to using Web 2.0 tools for learning and authentic
assessment will be highlighted. Presentations will explore innovative ways Web 2.0 tools can be blended together to help students create, collaborate, and share the knowledge safely on the global stage of the Internet. Maybe it’s time to share your insights and experiences with your teaching community. Join these sessions to gain insights on amplifying the possibilities of learning in your classroom and/or your professional practice.

Week 2

Strand A: Prove it

Although some teachers are excited to “amplify possibilities” using computer
technologies, Web 2.0 tools, and 21st Century learning strategies in their classrooms, how do we know if these innovative instructional strategies are really working? Since information technologies and emerging brain research continue to rapidly evolve and change, it is challenging as well as vital to find current, meaningful research to undergird the learning initiatives we are using in our classrooms. What are “best practices” for teaching and learning with the new participatory media? This strand will share research results from the field that support students in using knowledge to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, build community and solve problems. In addition, successful methods for developing and/or delivery of action research projects or research-based instruction in today’s digital world will be explored. In some cases, participants may be invited to participate in ongoing or beginning research on Web 2.0 tool use, constructivist pedagogy, or other 21st Century research issues.


Educational research about emerging professional development strategies, contemporary learning theory, systemic school reform, and other current themes of educational change are also appropriate for inclusion in this strand.

Help us to examine such research questions as:

  • What does research in learning science, instructional design, informal
    learning, and other fields tell us about today’s learner and their success?
  • What design features must teachers incorporate into their instructional activities to support meaningful learning?
  • What is the role of assessment in today’s changing classroom? How should assessment be structured to meaningfully assess student achievement in the context of the modern classroom?

Strand B: Leading the Change

Innovative approaches to teaching and learning using web 2.0 tools are often
utilized by a limited number of “early adopter” teachers in our schools. This strand seeks to amplify ways educators in a variety of contexts are serving as constructive catalysts for broad-based pedagogic change using Web 2.0 technologies as well as student-centered, project-based approaches to learning. Presentations in this strand will both showcase successful strategies as well as amplify critical issues which must be addressed for innovative learning methods to be adopted by teachers, librarians, and administrators on a
more widespread basis. These issues may include (but are not limited to) issues of copyright, fair use and intellectual property, Internet content filtering, student privacy and safety issues, administrator expectations for teacher utilization of Web 2.0 tools, pilot initiatives utilizing key Web 2.0 technologies in different content areas, and innovative ways students and teachers are providing just-in-time support as well as formal learning opportunities for each
other focusing on Web 2.0 tools. Successful approaches for both large and small schools, in rural as well as urban settings, will be included.
This strand will explore and amplify a menu of practical ideas for educators in diverse contexts who want to continue amplifying possibilities in our schools.

CALL FOR PROPOSALS:

This call encourages all educators, both experienced and novice with respect to Web 2.0 learning tools, to submit proposals to present at this conference via this link. Take this opportunity to share your successes, strategies, and tips in
“amplifying the possibilities” of web 2.0 powered learning in one of the four conference strands.

The deadline for proposal submissions is June 23, 2008 at midnight GMT. You will be contacted no later than July 2, 2008 regarding your proposal’s status. The conveners reserve to right to reposition a presentation in another strand if they believe it is best placed elsewhere. As in past years, conveners will utilize blind review committees to evaluate all
submissions.

Presentations for K12Online08 must conform to the following requirements:

  1. Presentations must be a single media file of twenty minutes or less in length.
  2. Presentations must be submitted in a downloadable and convertable file format (mp3, mov, WMV, FLV, m4a, or m4v.) Presenters wanting to use an alternative format should contact their respective strand convener in advance.
  3. Presentations are due two weeks prior to the week the relevant strand begins. (Week 1 presentations are due Monday, October 6, Week 2 presentations are due Monday, October 13.)
  4. Presentations must be submitted only one time and on time. Early submissions are welcomed! Repeat submissions (with changes and additional edits) will not be accepted. Presenters should proof carefully before submitting!
  5. All presentations will be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

The following are optional but encouraged presentation elements:

  1. Prior to September 13th, presenters are invited to submit a “teaser” (maximum video or audio file length: 3 minutes) about their presentation. This can be any type of online artifact and does not have to be downloadable. Examples may include videos, animations, posters, audio interviews, etc.
  2. In addition to marketing the presentation, teasers can be designed to encourage and solicit community input related to the presentation topic in advance of the presentation submission deadline.
  3. View teaser examples from 2007 at http://k12online07.wikispaces.com/Teasers
  4. Supplementary materials supporting presentations are welcomed. These can be wikis with supporting material links, linked examples of student projects, school district exemplary initiatives, social bookmarking collections, and/or other related content.
  5. Follow-up projects and/or live interaction opportunities for conference
    presentations which further amplify the possiblities of the
    presentation topic may be included. (This can include sharing and building of content prior to, during and after the conference.)

As you draft your proposal, you may wish to consider the presentation topics listed below which were suggested in the comments on the K-12 Online Conference Blog:

  • Special needs education
  • Creative Commons, Intellectual Property, Copyright and Fair Use
  • Student voices
  • Community involvement
  • Games in education
  • Specific ideas, tips, mini lessons centered on pedagogical use of web 2.0 tools
  • Overcoming institutional inertia and resistance
  • Aligning Web 2.0 and other projects to national standards
  • Getting your message across
  • How web 2.0 can assist those with disabilities
  • ePortfolios
  • Classroom 2.0 activities at the elementary level
  • Teacher/peer collaboration
  • Authentic assessment
  • Overcoming content filtering issues
  • Navigating “open web” versus “closed web” publishing of student work

Prospective presenters are reminded that the audience of the K12 Online Conference is global in nature and diverse in their educational context. For this reason presentations and presentation materials which address issues from a variety of perspectives are welcomed.

EVALUATION

Acceptance decisions will be made based on RELEVANCE, SIGNIFICANCE, ORIGINALITY, QUALITY, and CLARITY. Borrowing from the COSL 2008 call for proposals:

A submission is RELEVANT when

  • it directly addresses the conference and strand themes

A submission is SIGNIFICANT when

  • it raises and discusses issues important to improving the effectiveness and/or sustainability of 21st
    Century teaching and learning efforts, and
  • its contents can be broadly (globally) disseminated and understood

A submission is ORIGINAL when

  • it addresses a new problem or one that hasn’t been studied in depth,
  • it has a novel combination of existing research results which promise new insights, and / or
  • it provides a perspective on problems different from those explored before

A submission is of HIGH QUALITY when

  • existing literature is drawn upon, and / or
  • claims are supported by sufficient data, and / or
  • an appropriate methodology is selected and properly implemented, and / or
  • limitations are described honestly

A submission is CLEARLY WRITTEN when

  • it is organized effectively, and / or
  • the English is clear and unambiguous, and / or
  • it follows standard conventions of punctuation, mechanics, and citation, and / or
  • the readability is good

KEYNOTES:

The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well
known educator who is distinguished and knowledgeable in the context of
their strand. Keynoters will be announced shortly.

CONVENERS:

  • Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is known internationally for his ability to weave the use of online social tools meaningfully and concretely into his pedagogical practice. Darren’s professional blog is called A Difference (http://adifference.blogspot.com). He will convene Getting Started.
  • Dean Shareski is a Digital Learning Consultant for Prairie South School Division in Saskatchewan, Canada. Dean is an advocate for the use of social media in the classroom. To that end he works with teachers and students in exploring ways to make learning relevant, authentic and engaging. He also is a part time sessional lecturer for the University of Regina. He is celebrating his 20th year as an educator. Dean blogs at (http://ideasandthoughts.org). Dean will convene Kicking It Up A Notch.
  • Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, a 20-year educator, has been a classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, and digital learning consultant. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where she is in the dissertation phase of completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. As the cofounder of the Powerful Learning Practice Network she helps schools and teachers from around the world use community as a powerful tool for systemic change. You can find out more on her website at www.21stcenturycollaborative.com. She will convene Prove It.
  • Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change agent. He summarizes his ongoing work with educators and students in social media environments with the statement, “I’m here for the learning revolution.” His blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” was selected as the 2006 “Best Learning Theory Blog” by eSchoolnews and Discovery Education. Social media sites to which Wes contributes are listed on http://claimid.com/wfryer. Wes will convene Leading the Change.

QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions about any part of this call for proposals, please contact one of us:

  • Darren Kuropatwa: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com
  • Dean Shareski: shareski{at} gmail{dot} com
  • Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach: snbeach {at} cox {dot} net
  • Wesley Fryer: wesfryer {at} pobox {dot} com
  • Technorati Tags:

    Reshaping High Schools

    The current issue (May 2008) of Educational Leadership is
    terrific. The theme is “Reshaping High Schools.”

    Bob Wise, former Governor of
    West Virginia and the President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, kicks
    it off with an article “High schools at the Tipping Point” which zeroes in on
    the choice the United States faces:

    “Do nothing to fix a broken high school system and watch our
    competitiveness further decline, or summon the political will to demand change.”

    “Put Understanding First” by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
    addresses the high school curriculum and how it should start with the long-term goals of schooling: meaning making and transfer of learning

    This publication is packed with many other good articles. Be sure to read it!

    Reflection: Time Out to Think

     

    Kim Douillard shares her National Writing Project “Reflective Friday: Time Out to Think.”

    Kim is a codirector of the San Diego area writing project. She sums the lesson up with the following:


    My students have pushed me to “go past done” when it comes to thinking
    about their learning. Rather than depending solely on educational research or
    learning theories to tell me what they are able and not able to do, I turn to
    them for answers. They have shown me that in a multiage class such as ours,
    they can benefit from reflective activities during the school day. They have
    shown me that reflection is not just for adults, not just for university students,
    or pre-service teachers. Reflection helps us to remember, to make connections,
    and to make thoughtful, informed decisions. Reflection is a process for living.

    Kim was prompted to action when she heard a teacher-researcher from Alaska talking about the volume of information that teachers are supposed to impart to students and about the lack of time in the school schedule for thinking. Kim developed a schedule for Fridays that really incorporated time to think and reflect. You can see the detailed schedule for the day in her document but it includes brainstorming, activity time when students let their subconscious minds reflect while their bodies are moving, recess, writing, free read time followed by sharing with questions and discusssion, portfolio work and goal setting, thinking time, dialogue journal, recess again (Yea!), writing time and silent reading, read aloud. Now this sounds terrific! Think how well it would fit in with our blogging.

    Kim gives great examples and charts the types of thinking and how they change. There is much to absorb and think about in this and it reminds me once again how important it is that we blog about it and take time to comment/talk/share with the students. This is one of the best articles I have read about really giving more ownership of their learning to the students. Kim reiterates that:


    Students who set goals and evaluate their progress have more ownership of their
    learning. Through realistic, short-term goal setting and evaluation, students
    recognize their successes, become aware that they are responsible for their
    own progress, and are more motivated to work toward the goals they set.

    I have plenty to reflect on from this article. Thanks Kim, for sharing! If you have not browsed through all the terrific resources from The National Writing Project you are missing out!

    Photo Credit: Flickr Photo from BaSak’s photostream

    Reflection Think-Aloud 1

    sunset and flowersI’m going to try to start a series of think-alouds on various aspects of blogging that I feel are relevant to classroom blogging, areas where I want to do a better job next year when I return to J. H. House to do another blogging project with a classroom teacher. These think-alouds are going to be places where I do quick writes that will hopefully help me on this journey. Perhaps I can then put them together later (after I have done some reflecting) in a wiki or some other source.

    Reflection by students on their learning is key and I have posted about this before.

    Blogs are great spaces for students to reflect on what they are learning. I remember an instance in my classroom years ago when I asked a student to tell me what was going on inside his head, what was he thinking? He just gave me with a blank look and did not understand what I was asking. Many times we assume students are doing certain things as they are “thinking” . We need to figure out ways to check this more often with our students. If we talk with students more we can help them learn how to do some “self-talk” inside their head that will help them learn from their current experiences and in the process help them build a model of how they might want to learn from future experiences. We could help them with questions that they might want to ask themselves. If we listen and acknowledge and respond to their answers, it could help them understand the internal audience that they could speak to when they are ready to reflect about their learning. I believe we need to give our students many opportunities to practice this.

    We need to encourage our students to tell the story of what they are learning – not just a regurgitation of the facts but one where they explore how they might use these facts or share how they have applied those learning of facts to something that is going on in their lives. Students need help putting their experiences into words.

    A previous posts on reflections:

    Reflection articles

    (Revisit some of the questioning “possibilities” in this post.

    Write down the most pressing question that is on their mind after a
    lesson. If they don’t have one have them imagine what another peer’s
    question might be? Then the next day have them comment to one of their classmates’ questions.

    Re-state something said during class discussion and add something to the conversation.

    Could there be another point of view on resolving a problem or an issue? Develop it.

    Pose one multiple choice question and one essay type question for the
    material we covered today. Which one would assess learning better and
    why? This could make for a great classroom discussion on assessment.
    Imagine yourself as the expert of this subject. Predict what will change in the next five years and give your reasons.

    If you had only a few minutes to summarize the lesson today what
    would be the best way to do that so someone would remember what you said?

    Can you give an example of how we could check to be sure if the information we are using is accurate?

    State what is unclear to you about what we discussed. Have another student try to clarify for you.

    Write down a “think aloud” about something you are interested in
    learning about that you believe is relevant and is related to what we
    are studying in class.

    I need to think about adding to this list. Think more on what might work best.

    Feedback is welcomed!!

    Photo Credit: Sunset & flowers by Powi…(ponanwi)’s photostream

    A comment to ponder

    Hi James,

    I wish i understood why all classes aren’t AP classes. It
    doesn’t make since to me. I’m in fifth grade and I can’t get a
    challenge. How many AP classes are you in? I will probably not have
    any. Even though I am at the top of my class, I’m going to a private
    school next year. It costs $12,000.00. They don’t give homework, there
    is no “No Child Left Behind” and no standerdized testing. How awsome.
    Would you like to go there and why?

    Jordan

    I pulled this comment from one of my elementary students who had made a comment on one of my high school student blogs.  This is what kept ringing in my head….

    They don’t give homework, there
    is no “No Child Left Behind” and no standerdized testing.

    Hmmmmmm, maybe we’re not smarter than our fifth graders.

     

    Bloggers who make a difference

    Harley is one of my favorite bloggers. He puts a lot of joy in classrooms and really gets kids actively engaged in learning. Recently he posted about the process of making maple syrup for a group of fifth graders in Georgia. He had read some of the analogies that the fifth graders were creating and he incorporated that into his post. What great reinforcement for these kids! They got to think and apply their learning in such a fun way and many of them tossed analogies back to Harley. Harley’s first post brought 53 comments from the students and his second post now has 41 comments! I’m betting we will see even more comments. Plus many of the students went on to create their own posts as they excitely shared all that they were learning. Wow! Talk about connections!

    I love blogging with kids! I love the connections, the joy, and the thinking that abounds. Just think of all the neuroscience that is getting applied here:

    Making it relevant….

    Harley made the lesson personally interesting and motivating to the kids.

    Giving them a break….

    Blogging like this gives kids a break from the normal routine and it was a pleasurable activity that reduced stress and let them experience novelty.

    Creating positive associations……

    Kids developed associations by practicing creating analogies with a positively reinforcing strategy. (See Fifth Grade Webwriters Are #1)

    And the best one, allowing independent discovery learning! These kids will no doubt remember and understand this experience becaue they had a part in figuring it out for themselves. There were choices of places to go to learn and they got to use their imaginations in the process.

    Harley is not only a great blogger but has the makings of a neuroscientist too! Thanks Harley for putting all that joy into learning.

    I also owe a tremendous thank you to Lani whom I had the good fortune to meet through a comment on one of my classroom blogs back in 2005. We have collaborated and learned much since that time and she personally has put a lot of joy into my learning and reflecting. Lani truly makes a difference in the lives of many….

    When the fun stops, learning often stops too

    Judy Willis wrote an article on “The Neuroscience of Joyful Education” that begins with this quote:

    Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too.

    This should be posted in every classroom. She goes on to say that “A common theme in brain research is that superior cognitive inpiut to the executive function networks is more likely when stress is low and learning experiences are relevant to students.” Now I have to ask how stress free are our classrooms in which count downs to testing and focus on testing is the top priority – the end all, be all? Judy Willis points out that classrooms need to promote novelty, eliminate stress, and build pleasurable associations linked with learning. She says plan for the ideal emotional atmosphere by making it relevant, giving them a break, creating positive associations, and guiding students to learn how to prioritize information, and allow independent discovery learning.

    All this got me thinking about joy in the classroom and how much joy I have seen blogging in the classroom with kids. I’m thinking in particular of the J. H. House kids as I have spent most of my time blogging with them. My next post is going to feature one of my favorite bloggers who has put a lot of joy in a few classrooms over the past few days.

    More from Sara on The Book Trailer

    What a treat! I was sinking as I thought more about the damage high-stakes testing is doing to our schools so it was so uplifting to read Sara Kajder’s article, The Book Trailer: Engaging Teens Through Technologies in this month’s issue of Educational Leadership.

    It tells the story of students creating a two-minute video using still images, transitions and special effects (generated with MovieMaker or iMovie software), voiceovers, and a soundtrack. Students present the central characters, themes, or issues of the book visually and through written and voiceover narration. All trailers have to include the title of the book, the author’s name, and a presentation that is both authentic to the text and that works to “hook” readers. I also require students to submit their trailers with a piece of writing that explores the choices they made, with an analysis of the book that shows that they made decisions on the basis of the text, and not just by using the aspects of technology that would best captivate an audience.

    Sara goes on to say that….

    But technology is not the goal. Student writers and readers are at the center of our instruction. And we, as mindful teachers, must thoughtfully and deliberately prepare all of our students for success by critically exploring the new technological tools and then using the ones that can help us and our students to powerfully convey what we think and know.

    I can’t think of a more exciting time to teach, as we’re immersed in new possibilities for working with words and with one another. When we teach creatively with emergent tools in mind, we stand a better chance of engaging reluctant students by giving what we teach real meaning. Each day is an invitation to examine, play, invent, reinvent, and join in the conversation.

    Read the whole article. I’ve posted previously about Sara here and here.