Saturday, October 23, 2010

DEN Tech or Treat Virtual Conference-October 23, 2010

Last Saturday, I attended the face-to-face CECA pre-conference sponsored by Discovery Education at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT. This Saturday morning, while sitting in my nightgown at my laptop, I tuned into a virtual conference. There were a number of sites (not in CT) where educators were gathered together ( some in Halloween costumes) to watch the live steam projected onto a wall, but there were also hundreds of other educators tuning in from their homes all across the world. I did not plan to stay but a few minutes, but I ended up absolutely glued to my laptop as one presenter finished, and another began. I participated in the conference from 8:30 until 11:45 a.m. Then I had to force myself to shut down the computer and go for a lovely ride with my husband  through the beautiful fall scenery . We went to Lyman Orchards; my husband had a craving for apple cider donuts. Luckily, I care nothing about donuts, so I wasn't tempted to have more than a donut hole. The place was mobbed, and I was glad to see folks outside enjoying the lovely fall afternoon instead of sitting home glued to their computer or the t.v.
Anyway, getting back to the virtual conference, Steve Dembo moderated it. He is a man of amazing energy, but, as I said in an earlier post, he does not let his ego get in the way. He is a wonderful, enthusiastic educator.
The first session by Gail Lovely offered hints on "It's not the Technology, it's the Education. She went through a slew of wonderful resources. All of the sessions were recorded and will be available on the DEN site soon. That is great because I'll have to go back and watch the session again in order to digest all the great information. Of course, that is no substitute for being able to participate live in the chat, sharing your ideas and getting feedback from others in the room. Here is the address she provided with the links to her presentation uploaded to slideshare:
Next, Porter Palmer gave us "Out of the World Ideas for Showcasing Student Work."
This should be a very helpful resource to meet our goal at Amity to share more of the wonderful projects our students produce.
Finally, I was about to close the cover down when my hero, Whitney Mihoulides, our Northeast representative who encouraged me to become a DEN STAR, presented her session entitled "Digital Storytelling in a Web 2.0 World." Needless to say, she did a terrific job, and it will take me a lot of time to investigate all the wonderful resources she introduced us to. She introduced us to a brand new resource from Discovery Education on tools to help students tell their stories digitally. While it is aimed at K-5, there are many resources there which can be adapted for older students:
She also told us about Photo Peach, an online site where one can upload photos and tell a story through a web-generated slide show.
Well, it's nearly Sunday, and I'd best get to bed.
I hope someone reading this blog will find something useful. Please leave me a comment.
Thanks! and Good-Night!

Lingo: The coolest dictionary known to hombre!

I participate in a lot of online webinars, and I always learn something new to bring to the classroom from other teachers and technology gurus from all over the world. I always have a Google Doc open during the webinar, and I take notes and copy links into that document to reference later. Of course, time is often an issue. Tonight, I was scanning through my notes (over a year of webinars), and something made me click on the following:
This is an amazing tool. All you have to do is go to the site, type in any web address, and the page opens. When you click on any word in the web page, a box appears with multiple definitions for the word. As an experiment, I entered my blog address, and it was simply amazing. I got a definition - pretty accurate- for every word I clicked on. The only word I had a problem with was "fixed" and in "fixed" intelligence. It did not give me the definition to fit that context, but it did give several other definitions.
When I closed the web page and went into lingro again, it told me the history of the clicks I'd made on the page and generated a list of words I'd clicked on. That's all I had time for, but I suspect it will do much more, including translation. Give it a try. Just think, we could upload any document a student needed to read to Google Docs, and then plug the web address of that document into lingro, and the student could have an annotated copy of the text with definitions of unfamiliar words available at a click.

Discovery Education at Bethany Middle School

Thanks to Warren Gohsler, all of the students in our middle schools have been uploaded to the Discovery Education Database. That means that our students have access to their Discovery Student Centers from home.There they can view any assignments or media their teachers have assigned to them. In addition, they have access to a huge database of full videos, video clips, and associated materials on a number of different topics of interest. Not only can they receive individualized instruction, but they are also free to be self-directed, independent learners. This past week, every 7th grader successfully logged into the network. They were given a few minutes to explore topics available on the site, and I was very gratified to get a "thumbs up" from most of the kids. Life-long learning rules, and it's not confined to the walls of our school. We are very fortunate to have a district that recognizes the value of putting tools for independent exploration in a safe environment into the hands of all of our students.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a Rush the Discovery Education pre-conference for CECA was!

 reposted from my DEN blog-
The CECA pre-conference at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT, was awesome. I learned many new things. I can hardly wait to test the Smart Board media player with a streaming video. I did not know until today's session offered by Howard Gunther and Robin Metaj that picking up one of the markers will pause a video playing in the Smart media player. You can annotate right on the still clip and save that to a Notebook 10 file by clicking on the camera icon. Next, you click on the red x to get rid of the writing, put the marker back in the tray, and the video continues. That is such a neat feature. The session by Steve Dembo on 50 ways to Spin a Digital Story was also very informative. I learned about several new tools that I had never heard of before. I am most anxious to try, an online video editing tool. I also got more information on Google Earth and am encouraged to learn even more. Glogster was at the conference, too, and they announced that they are starting an anti-bullying campaign on their site very soon. That message needs to be spread far and wide.
Great bagels and coffee and juice for breakfast; nice sandwich box for lunch; great prizes to end the session; and the conference was offered for free. Who could ask for more. This is the second face-to-face conference I've attended organized by Whitney Mihoulides. I understand she has organized and managed another 16 in addition to the two I attended. She is amazing. Steve Dembo, who is in charge of the whole Discovery Education Network, is also an incredible human being. He's really a celebrity, but he's real people. I didn't pick up on any ego at all- just a real belief in his product and a great enthusiasm for sharing.
Could it get any better? Yes! I won one of the prizes. I got a small DVD player, a collection of Discovery videos including one on Nefertiti, a mouse pad, and a polo shirt with a Discovery Logo. Guess what I'm wearing to the CECA conference on Monday! My hubby and I are staying at a hotel in the area, and I've plugged the DVD player into the large screen TV in our room. The video (watching one on sharks, now) is awesome on the big screen. Thanks, Discovery for a really great day.
I can hardly wait to share what I've learned with my colleagues back at my middle school.
Finally, thanks to Smith Middle School for hosting the conference. You have a gorgeous school. What a nice environment for collaborating and learning. Oh, and  I can't forget to thank the Connecticut DEN Leadership Council who helped organize and run the conference. Great job, guys! Love your blog.

Learning so Much at the Discovery Education preCECA Conference

It's Saturday, October 16, and I'm at Smith Middle School in Glastonbury, CT. It's a beautiful Saturday, yet I and over 100 educators are attending various workshops on Discovery Education and how it beautifully interacts with SmartBoard and dozens of Web 2.0 tools. It's an exciting day charged with excitement, and I'll report out on some of the things I learned in another post. Thanks so much to Discovery Education and the Connecticul Council for such a wonderful learning experience.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Discovery Streaming on the iPad

Here is a link to the Discovery Education Streaming portal available on the iPad through the Safari browser. I really believe that having this available will inspire any students lucky enough to have access to an iPad to extend their learning outside the classroom.

Of course, Discovery Education Streaming is also avaliable on their home computers and laptops, as well. Things are in place, and soon all of our students will have the ability to log into their own personal learning center at Discovery Education.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playing with the iPad

Edited on October 16, 2010. Duh! iPad has a built-in microphone - I should have known that. I played with an app on the iPad where I talked to an animal, and he repeated what I said. Cute - but useful??? Then, our media specialist showed me a free app - dragon dictation - you click on the red record button and speak, and when you hit done, what you said is translated into text which you can edit - and then email, tweet, blog, etc. Now, that is very exciting and very useful! I could almost live without the camera.

I am so excited.I got to borrow an iPad for the weekend. Previous to this opportunity, I wasn't too keen on the iPad. It didn't support Adobe Flash.I was disappointed that I couldn't view my live webinars from Classroom 2.0, which are delivered through the wonderful Elluminate platform. That kind of soured me. However, after playing with all the other wonderful features, I'm becoming a convert. First of all, I found that some of the archived sessions of Classroom 2.0 webinars have been recorded and are available in Vimeo. The clarity of the chat and slides was great. I just read that Discovery Streaming is adapting so delivery of content on iPad will be possible. I was able to stream NPR live as well as listen to archived sessions. I looked at some of my videos I uploaded to YouTube, and the clarity full-screen was awesome. The iPad is very easy to hold. I love the keypad-so much easier than my iPhone. Google apps editing is coming. The fact that I can sit in my backyard and update my blog is awesome!Finally,I can't believe how great the battery life is. Is this going to revolutionize education? It is certainly going to help.It's a natural for kids. Actually, they do great on the small screens of iPods and iPhones. If the new generation of iPad gives me a microphone  and a camera so I can participate in conversations online and take and store pictures,I'll definitely find a way to get one. With G3 I'd give up my iPhone and use the pad.