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Sunday, November 28, 2010

NCATE Panel Calls for Turning Teacher Education "Upside Down"

A national blue ribbon panel convened last year by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) last week called for teacher education to be "turned upside down" by revamping programs to make clinical practice the centerpiece of the curriculum. The panel also recommended that teacher education institutions and school districts partner and make teacher education more of a shared responsibility. Eight states—California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee—have already agreed to implement the panel’s recommendations and will work with national experts to pilot approaches to implementation and bring new models of clinical preparation to scale.

“The new approaches will involve significant policy and procedural changes in both the state higher education and P–12 education systems and entail revamping longstanding policies and practices that are no longer suited to today's needs. The changes called for will require state higher education officials, governors, and state P–12 commissioner leadership working together to remove policy barriers and create policy supports for the new vision of teacher education,” says the NCATE press release on the panel’s recommendations.

Read the recommendations of the NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning.

Using Web 2.0 in Your Classroom

I've written a number of posts on the use of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and Facebook in education. Despite many IT barriers, usage tends to be greater in the K-12 arena, but higher education has also seen a rise in use.

One particularly useful resource is the Web 2.0:  New Tools, New Schools and the companion book, Web 2.0 How-to for Educators, published by International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  The first is more of an overview and best-practices manual, whereas the second is a directed guide on how to use the tools in your classroom. Both are written by a professor of education and a technology in education specialist.

From the ISTE website:
NEWTOOWhat can Web 2.0 tools offer educators? Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging Web 2.0 technologies and their use in the classroom and in professional development. Topics include blogging as a natural tool for writing instruction, wikis and their role in project collaboration, podcasting as a useful means of presenting information and ideas, and how to use Web 2.0 tools for professional development. Also included are a discussion of Web 2.0 safety and security issues and a look toward the future of the Web 2.0 movement. Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools is essential reading for teachers, administrators, technology coordinators, and teacher educators.

And regarding Web 2.0 How-to for Educators,
HOW2NSWeb 2.0 How-To for Educators explores the very best online collaborative tools available today (including blogs, wikis, and social networking) and Web 2.0 applications (Skype, Google Earth, Wordle, and more) that make a difference in education. Using a simple formula for each concept, the book describes what the tool is, when teachers should use it, why it is useful, who is using it, how you can use the tool, and where you can find additional resources. Practical examples from educators around the world offer an abundance of ideas, and the recommendations for further information and comprehensive lists of Web 2.0 tools and applications will be valuable resources as you integrate Web 2.0 technology in your classroom.

Table of Contents
Read excerpt

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Social Media as Teaching Tool

A Chicago-area English teacher is using social media to help interest his high-school students in literature and reading. Chuck Moore uses PBworks and edmodo, which both offer free social networks for students to collaborate and discuss assignments. Moore's students use the Internet to further their understanding of books and social networking to discuss books online. "It's like what they're used to doing when they socialize with each other," Moore said. The SouthtownStar (Chicago)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Integrating wikis into lessons to improve learning

High-school technology-integration specialist Andrew Marcinek offers suggestions in this blog post for reviving students' interest in learning. Marcinek set up a wiki for his English 101 class and outlined a new set of classroom expectations that included reminding students to have fun with assignments and encouraging them to collaborate, share and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Edutopia.org/Andrew Marcinek's blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Middle School Students Share What Learned in Blogs

Students at a Pittsburgh-area middle school are blogging about what they learn during lessons in science, art and other subjects as part of an effort to make 21st-century skills part of the classroom. "The power of classroom blogging is that students are not merely writing to their teachers, what they think the teacher wants to read, and only for a grade," one educational consultant said. "They are writing with the knowledge that at least their classmates will be reading what they are writing and responding to what they are writing." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Child-driven Education TED talk

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."
"Education-as-usual assumes that kids are empty vessels who need to be sat down in a room and filled with curricular content. Dr. Mitra's experiments prove that wrong." Linux Journal

Monday, November 15, 2010

Notes from my iPad

I am trying something new. To celebrate my finishing my dissertation and earning my Ph.D., my husband bought me an iPad. Today I am stuck in the doctor's office, so I'm using the time to explore the possibilities. Since I don't have a smartphone, I'm still learning to use the keyboard, but so far it is really user-friendly. It is so much better than my husband's Blackberry keyboard. I typed my notes for this post and then e-mailed them to me. Worked great!

I can see several uses in the classroom already. My nephew has trouble writing on paper and currently carries around a special device that let's him type out his answers. It is limited in that it only types one line at a time and he can't write long responses or see what he has written previously. But using the iPAd, he could do so much more. The portability is another plus. The iPad actually weighs less and easily fits into his book bag. It looks just like one of his books, which helps him fit in. I can see how his teacher might be able to upload his worksheets to Google Docs or Zoho so he could complete the actual worksheet and turn it in.

The notes app would allow students to type their notes in class rather than writing them on notebook paper. Many kids type faster on their phones than they write. They could access the Internet to find information to supplement class discussions. They could use different educational apps to help them learn a new concept or to practice/reinforce what they learn. I found one iPhone app developed by eduweb  called SpaceWalking that allows you to walk through the solar system.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What you should know to write a winning technology grant

A successful grant writer for four Alabama districts provides six tips for successfully securing technology grants. Lana Bellew suggests avoiding grants that might not be useful for the school or district, researching available grants and finding ones that match schools' needs, studying those who have won the grants in the past, creating a calendar to keep track of upcoming grants, taking a grant-writing class and understanding that it could take several months to write a grant proposal and receive a response. T.H.E. Journal

Are schools' firewalls too restrictive of Internet content?

Many teachers say they are frustrated by school firewalls that limit the Internet content available to students and educators. John Norton, co-founder of the Teacher Leaders Network, posted portions of a recent online discussion in which educators said firewalls have prevented them from accessing useful teaching resources and learning tools, such as Skype, Twitter and YouTube. However, one administrator also noted that the firewalls are there for a reason -- to protect students. Teacher Magazine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New technology plan released for the nation's schools

Education Secretary Arne Duncan released the final version of the National Education Technology Plan. The plan, which emphasizes the role of the department as a facilitator, is focused on enhancing academic instruction through Internet-based learning, a decreased emphasis on "seat time" and a preference for more flexibility. The document also includes plans to fund the creation of open-source resources for schools and online professional learning communities for teachers, among other initiatives. Education Week (premium article access compliments of EdWeek.org) (11/9) , T.H.E. Journal

Mashpee High uses computer wizardry to teach technology

Students in Sal Nocella's gaming design class are learning about 3D animation and creating video games in high-tech classes that focus on STEM fields. "The best way to say it is that we're taking theory and applying it," one teacher said. For example, in a 3D animation class, students must first measure objects and use math to create 3D computer images. Though the ultimate goal is creating a fun distraction, inherent in the game are somewhat complicated equations and calculations. In this case, students used an X and Y axis to graph the robot's movements, while in other applications they might use equations to calculate the size of an object they want to turn into a 3D computer image. An added bonus to using the state-of-the-art software Nocella provides his students is that, come college or career, they'll already be entrenched in a field that's exploding in Massachusetts and elsewhere. "This is where the jobs are," he said. "This is how to compete with the global economy." Cape Cod Times (Mass.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Use wikis to enhance students' vocabulary

Wikis can be used to improve students' vocabulary, educator and technology specialist Patrick Ledesma writes in this blog post. He suggests having students research and write definitions on a class wiki in a way that will be "understandable to their friends" instead of simply rewriting definitions. Students can also include graphics and pictures to illustrate their understanding of the terms. He also says teachers can allow students to develop a wiki with common class vocabulary words that students can reference for review and practice for standardized tests. Teachers can also give students practice with synonyms by having them tag the pages. Finally, he suggests that teachers have students use graphic organizers to help them design their vocabulary pages. Teacher Magazine/Leading from the Classroom blog

'Stealth Assessment' Turns to Video Games to Measure Thinking Skills

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that researchers at Florida State University are using video games to test students without them knowing as a way to administer so-called "stealth assessments." Officials say the games are a low-pressure way for educators to observe students and gather information about how they learn and what higher-order thinking skills they have. "The idea of stealth assessment is really to make it merge into the fabric of the learning environment," one researcher said.

Example of Embedding Zoho Document in Blog

This is an example of a table I created using Zoho Writer and then embedded into a blog post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning better on 3D "patients"

Medical teaching software (such as iMedic,a program program creates a 3D X-ray that allows doctors to examine the body from every angle) exemplifies how the video gaming industry has penetrated academia. The Washington Post reported that several video game companies have switched from the entertainment industry to focus solely on what they call "serious games." Breakaway Games, just outside of Baltimore, has been developing training games for the last three years. Their clients include the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, and the Medical College of Georgia. 
"The sentiment to use games in learning has always existed," said Ben Sawyer, president of Digitalmill and co-founder of the Serious Games Initiative and one of its offshoots, the Games for Health Project. Flight simulators, computerized war games and practice space stations have been used for decades to train pilots, soldiers and astronauts. "What's changing drastically now is the capability to inject much more robust and usable applications in the form of video games and computer simulations into these environments like never before." 
At the University of Maryland Medical Center, Gyusung Lee, assistant professor of surgery, oversees a research project with similar goals but different means. In the lab where iMedic is run, Lee employs motion-capture technology -- used to create "Madden Football" and "The Lord of the Rings"-- to study the movements of experienced surgeons. A platform that functions like a large Wii Fit board captures a surgeon's every move. A vest and motion sensors are attached to the surgeon's body and arms. Video game developers use this method to record the movements of football and basketball players in creating a library of motions from which gamers can choose. 


First Graders Using Facebook as a Learning Tool

A first-grade teacher in Iowa is using Facebook as a teaching tool and a way to update parents about what students are doing in school. The class has its own Facebook page and, after a lesson, a student posts a status update on what students have "learned and why it's important," a fellow teacher said. The class updates its status two to three times a day, and parents and other students often respond to the posts. The Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Does collaborative work offer students an opportunity for bullying?

Group work in the classroom teaches students to collaborate, but some say it may offer a prime opportunity for bullying, education blogger Sarah Garland writes in this post. In a recent interview, Williams College professor Susan Engel argued in favor of collaborative learning, which she says helps prepare students for projects in the workplace. Author Katharine Beals disagreed, arguing that group activities -- especially those that lack constant supervision -- offer a venue for bullies to target vulnerable students. The Hechinger Report/EarlyStories blog