Tag Archives: 21

It’s Free To Read-Write-Think : A Site That Is More Than Language Arts!

Welcome to another midweek post which I am very excited to share with you. ReadWriteThink is more than just an awesome Language Arts site filled with outstanding resources. It goes beyond Literacy and shows ways to integrating technology to support 21st century learning and core curriculum. For instance, Teaching with Blogs, Teaching with Podcasts, Online Safety, and Reading Online are lessons that many will find useful no matter the core content being taught. Take a moment and check it out, also be sure to follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mjgormans), I will do the same and we can learn from each other. You are always welcome to join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Have a great week! – Mike   

The web site readwritethink states its mission “to provide educators, parents, and afterschool professionals with access to the highest quality practices in Reading and Language Arts instruction by offering the very best in free materials.” Its sponsors include the International Reading Association, The National Council of Teachers of English, and Thinkfinity. It is evident that the site is built on professionalism. The site clearly states that every lesson plan has been aligned not only to the IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts but also to each individual state’s standards. Two main areas of the site include Classroom Resources and Professional Development.
Under Classroom Resources there are four main subsections. The impressive collection of **Lesson Plans**contains nearly six hundred classroom ideas all aligned with national and state standards for grades K-12. There is a wide selection of lessons include reading in content areas using textmaster strategies, connecting with an e-pal, creating a biography, writing fractured fairy tales, and exploring fictional technology. Another resource in the Classroom Section is **Student Interactives**. These interactives include some amazing activities to engage children in the classroom. Examples include comic creators, letter generators, story maps, poetry constructors, biocubes, and constructor letters. The **Calendar Resource** is definitely not your everyday calendar. This resource provides events in literary history, authors’ birthdays, and a variety of holidays. Best of all, the calendar is integrated with related activities and resources that make them more relevant to students. The calendar can be viewed by the day, week, or month. The Calendar Resource includes authors/texts, historical figures/events, holiday/school celebrations, and literacy-related events. The **Print Out** Resource Section houses an outstanding selection of printable sheets from assessments to organizers. These Print Outs are all classroom-tested and easy for students and teachers to use. While this is a vast collection, some of the more popular Print Outs include topics such as Diamante Poems, Persuasion Maps, Editing Checklists For Self and Peer Editing, Book Review Templates, Essay Maps, Alphabet Charts, and Tips For Movie Maker.
The second main area includes materials and resources for professional development. The Professional Development area is also divided into four resource areas. The first, Strategy Guides, is perfect if you are looking for new teaching strategies or are just interested in becoming more familiar with strategies you are already using in the classroom. These strategy guides define and provide a wealth of resources to facilitate effective literacy teaching. Three main areas include Differentiating Instruction, Teaching with Technology, and Teaching Writing. My interest in technology caused me to investigate strategies in Online Safety, Reading Online, Teaching with Blogs, and Teaching with Podcasts.
The last of the three areas under presfessional development for the most part include member services, publications for sale, paid webinars, and conference calendars. They include a Professional Library, Meeting and Events, and Online Professional Development. Don’t forget some of the Podcast series such as Chatting about Books. This series chats with kids, parents, and teachers about the best in children’s literature for ages 4 through 11. Another is Text Messages that is aimed at teens. Text Messages is monthly podcast providing educators recommendations they can pass along to teen readers. Each episode features in-depth recommendations of titles that is bound to engage and excite teen readers. Readwritethink is a site that should interest not just language arts teachers but all teachers that focus on writing across the curriculum and technology integration ideas. It is well worth the time to take the opportunity to readwritethink!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and learn. Be sure to return, and as always leave any comments you feel are worth while. You are always invited to  follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mjgormans), I will do the same, and we can learn from each other. You are also welcome to join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki  filled with awesome resources!  Have a great week! – Mike

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Explore GPS and GIS In Engaging STEM Related PBL Activities : Free Resources And Site License

 


Give a kid a GPS and allow them to enthusiastically explore the world outdoors, introduce them to GIS and engage them with a world of relevant data, maps and information. We are all aware of of Google Maps, but are you aware of ESRI and Arcview? It is time to introduce your students to one of the fastest growing  job sectors in the world. This mid week post offers you an opportunity to discover free resources, inspire students using awesome activities,  and do a PBL project on your community while getting a free site license in return. As always fee free to visit me at my 21ceturyedtech Wiki and follow me on twitter @mjgormans. I will do the same and we can learn from each other. – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

Even before  there was Google Earth, there was a company called ESRI (Environment Systems Research Institute) based in Redlands, California. This company still exists and is not only a leader in GIS application but is also dedicated to K12 education. GIS (Geopgraphic Information Systems) can be integrated in science and social studies, as well as in mathematics and art/design. It also connects with GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to provide engaging adventures for students. GIS provides a foundation for interdisciplinary projects that allow for connections to the real world. Working with GIS also allows today’s students to develop 21st Century skills relating to computer literacy, problem solving, communication, collaboration, and presentation. Using GIS opens the doors to occupational fields that are growing and in demand for students upon completion of their schooling. Most resources from ESRI are either free, very low cost, or available through an ESRI grant for K12 educators and students.

You will find  abundant resources of materials at the ESRI Main K12 Page  in education This web page provides a format that educators can use to collaborate and share lessons with techniques that are successful. Check out this listing of over 300 lessons available for download using ESRI software. Be sure to download  a copy of Arc View for use in education

Most recently I came across four books (Our World GIS Education ) that were developed for K12 education. These books are available through ESRI at a retail price of about $50.00 each.These same books can be found at Amazon about $10.00 cheaper. The books do an excellent job of providing teachers with lessons and units that are based on twenty-first century skills and project based learning. They also include two CD in each book. One CD gives free access to necessary ESRI software for 365 days on up to 50 machines. After the 365 days schools can buy a site license for the entire school (about $500.00) or, better yet, engage students in an activity that provides the license for free. The other CD provides all lessons and support files for the book in a digital format. Our World GIS Education Books is the place to find these four books that were winners of the 2008 Geography Excellence in Media (GEM) Awards by The National Council for Geographic Education. Books are presented as levels going from level 1-4. This site provides a look at each book including a description along with links to Workbook Support, Teacher Resources, and Podcast with Authors. Also you must scan Taking a Look Inside which includes the  Table of Contents and the First Three Chapters, and, of course, a link to buy the book. Information links for each book follows along with descriptions from website.
Thinking Spatially Using GIS – provides geographic tools–maps, geographic data, and GIS–to teach young students a basic understanding of spatial concepts, pattern recognition, and map trends analysis.
Mapping Our World Using GIS – encourages students to acquire and continue building broad-based problem-solving skills using geospatial technology.
Analyzing Our World Using GIS – helps educators use GIS technology and geographic data to promote inquiry-based learning among students studying world geography and other disciplines. This book combines open-ended geospatial exploration opportunities with the structure of nationally standardized course content, classroom activities, teacher notes, student handouts, and assessments.
Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS – encourage the use of GIS in solving problems and making decisions. The lessons in this textbook build on the rich array of GIS tools available, enabling students to perform sophisticated analyses in a variety of content areas. This book encourages readers to make decisions and ultimately create their own analysis to investigate and answer based on real-world concerns.

How about a free site license from ESRI? Visit the ESRI Community Mapping Page and get your students involved. On this page you will learn more about Community Atlas and the grant program, have an opportunity to visit winning Model Projects from each year, download the Community Atlas instruction pages and model projects, explore all student projects, and submit or edit your project.

This was an enjoyable post for me to write. In fact I recieved some of my first training using GIS and GPS from Bob Kolvoord at James Madison University in the Project Vism (Visualization in Science and Math) through a grant with the NSF. Bob is one of the authors in Book Four, Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS. It was Project Vism, almost ten years ago, that engaged me in finding ways to use technology as a tool. Thanks for this visit and as always feel free to reply and comment. Check out my 21centuryedtech Wiki and feel free to follow me on twitter at @mjgormans, I will return the favor! – Mike (mgormans@sacs.k12.in.us)

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EtherPad – A Free And Easy Collaboration Tool : No Sign Up – No Log In

Welcome to another mid week posting highlighting a Great Web Catch. Collaboration is one of those important 21st Century Skills for students and a needed process for teacher planning. Recently EtherPad, a plain and simple collaboration tool, was purchased by Google to be incorporated in the Google Wave product. This review covers the strengths of EtherPad and how it will continue to live in the open sources world and as a foundation for Google Wave. As always visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki for even more resources to transform today’s education for tomorrow’s needs! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

EtherPad has been known as a valuable tool, allowing instant  and  easy collaboration for students and teachers.  As the site proclaims, “Etherpad is simply the most frictionless way to get people on the same page.” The real attraction to EtherPad is the lack of requirement for a user account, sign in, or email. As you are aware, this is a definite plus in the educational setting.  The collaboration is easy!  All that is needed is a visit to http://etherpad.com and  a press of a button called Create Public Pad. After this quick process, a new public pad is created for the user in Etherpad . The user then shares the URL  for the pad with up to sixteen others. What ever is typed from where ever, is displayed on the page in real time. There is even a chat window!  This is a great tool for those that need to bring up a quick collaboration tool on the fly. It is useful in the classroom for students to communicate point of need help in Project Based Learning, collaborate as a group, keep teacher aware of group progress, communicate beyond walls, and interview authors and experts. It allows teachers to collaborate on text documents, keep meeting notes, and draft plans. EtherPad allows each line entered by a collaborator  to have a different number for easy reference. Authors are also given color codes and can even be given a label or name. Best of all, work can be saved and exported as an HTML, plain text, bookmarked file, Microsoft Word, PDF, or Open document. Different revisons can be documented and a time slider is provided to show when revisions are made.  Users must be aware that the only way  to keep open pads private is to safeguard the URL. For this reason private information should not be shared. Take a look at this list of frequently asked questions and view a tour of the product. Recently, EtherPad’s creator AppJet was purchased by Google for the new Google Wave product.  It is currently going through a restructuring to an open source format. It is also being used as a foundation for Google’s soon to be publicly released Google Wave  product.  While it is a goal, Google Wave doesn’t yet have all the functionality of Etherpad. The people at both Google and Appjet are confident that in the long term users will be pleased with the transition to Google Wave . In the mean time, Etherpad is a great way to introduce plain and simple collaboration and may allow you to soon catch the Google Wave! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

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A Free Resource : A Must For Media Centers and Science Departments

Welcome to another mid-week post that allows me to share what I claim to be “Great Web Catches”. Explore this review of The Encyclopedia Of Life. It is a resource that should be known by every science teacher and available in every media center. Encourage students to explore what will eventual be a  amazing resource of biodiversity and  of all life on earth. – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

Imagine a database filled with all the Earth’s living organisms! A site that allows students to search by common or scientific name, shows a text  and graphic  illustration of specific classification, provides “creative commons” pictures,  and displays interactive maps of distribution. In fact, complete detailed physical and behavioral descriptions are included, along with habitats, distribution,  trophic strategies, conservation status, usefulnessand associations. EOL known as The Encyclopedia of Life is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. The goals of the organization is to make  freely available an online reference and database of all 1.9 million species currently known to science and stay current by capturing information on newly discovered and formally described species. The EOL steering committee consists of  senior advisors from Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Chicago, the Marine Biological Conservatory at Woods Hole, the Biodiversity Heritage Libary Consortium, Missouri Botanical Gardens, MacArthur and Sloan Foundations, and over 25 content providers worldwide. There is an excellent web page tutorial providing assistance on how to use the interface and the species pages. The site has even been featured  in this TED Video by site  founder E. O. Wilson of Harvard University. EOL is well on its way of reaching the 1.9 million species listing.

EOL has  also recently launched an exciting education site for teachers and students to explore biodiversity. Some activites include having middle and high school students upload pictures of their area floral fauna and upload images and video to the EOL Flickr Photo Pool. EOL  runs regular image contests, so you can use the contest as extra motivation for your class. Perhaps you may wish to introduce elementary and middle school students to the  Podcast of Life: lively, you-are-there audio segments showcasing science in action. Beginning December 17, 2009, you can download the podcasts.  New podcasts will appear every other week. Learn how middle and high school students can enter the Living on the Ocean Planet Video Contest sponsored by the US-based National Ocean Sciences Bowl. EOL content and images can be used for these and other class projects and winning videos will be posted on EOL. Explore the new EOL NameLink widget to automatically hyperlink species names in any web page to EOL. NameLink will also convert scientific names to common names. To install the widget, drag this link (NameLink this page) to the bookmark bar in your browser (or right-click and add it to your favorites). Elementary and middle school students may wish to Dive into Marine Biology with WhyReef. Developed by EOL cornerstone institution,  The Field Museum in Chicago, in conjunction with the social networking site WhyVille. WhyReef is a virtual coral reef stocked with species that are linked to content on EOL. Have students find out about classification and taxonomy by exploring species’ “family trees” using the classification browser located in the upper right  hand side of every EOL species page. Click here for a lesson plan developed by a teacher using this feature. Have students Explore primary biodiversity literature and illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) that are linked to the species pages.  EOL is an awesome project with even bigger possibilities for today’s twenty-first century learners, and it’s free! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

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Empathy, Awareness, Creativity are the Goal…Technology is the Tool – Reflections on NMSA09

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Please take a moment to enjoy this thought provoking reflection on the role of technology in education. This article contains my thoughts on the National Middle School Conference 2009 and its potential impact on 21st century learning and technology. It covers some of the featured speakers along with thoughts,  links, and videos to allow you to investigate.  I guarantee you there are priceless links in this posting!

I also want to recognize Mr. Alan Summers and his complete conference team from the NMSA for what will be remembered as an outstanding conference. The Indiana contribution from IMLEA was also evident along with the constant enthusiasm at their welcome area!

I also want to thank all of you for visiting this site and helping it grow. The wiki/blog have attracted close to 6000 unique visitors in about three short months of existence. It has now reached all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 47 foreign countries. Your thoughts, reflections, emails, and invites to the network are so appreciated. Please visit the companion 21centuryedtech wiki for even more resources – Mike

A conference is always what you make of it. Since I am an avid technology conference attender, I decided to check out the technology message at the NMSA09 Conference in Indianapolis. I did not even have to attend a session to get my first taste. After strolling through the vendor area I found the 21 st Century Classroom filled with modern technology along with real teachers and students conducting lessons. Imagine not just lecturing about educational transformation, but creating the real experience for all to see. It is awesome to see that NMSA  takes the time to model what it also advocates.

The NMSA09 Conference had close to 500 sessions with featured keynote speakers of national prominence accounting for many of these. The featured speakers and keynotes I  attended  included Will Daggett, Daniel Pink, and Alan November. As I listened to the three it was evident that the common theme appeared to be empathy, awareness, and creativity was needed for real transformation to happen.

Will Daggett opened with a reminder fto teachers that they really are part of the best educational system in the world. After all, the United States is one of the few countries that attempts to educate all children.  United States schools are involved in a constant battle between excellence and equity. This is a difficult line to walk, but one the United States must continue to engage in.  His constant theme revolved around the idea “Relevance makes Rigor Possible”, a phrase he coined. Daggett then emphasized that U.S. students need to be made aware of the social/economic change happening in the global community. He stressed this need for awareness as he emphasized that today’s students are in a battle for future jobs, and they do not even know it, because no one is teaching them.  The new technology he demonstrated was awesome including both the siftable chip, a new technology manipulative, and SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) which allows for even more computing portability due to a virtual keyboard and a virtual monitor that are both beamed using laser technology. In fact, I did some research and found there is already a portable video projector for the iPhone. Be sure to also check out this virtual laser keyboard!   Daggett then listed five concepts in learning which included: knowledge of one discipline, application of one discipline, application across disciplines, application to real world predictable situations, and  application to real world unpredictable situations. He maintained that schools spend a lot of time on the first and second and very little time on the last three. It was the first time  I realized that the very last step really identifies the difference between project based learning and problem based learning. My mind wandered to this year’s Future City problem. Students are to build short term housing that is sustainable and green for displaced people after an emergency sometime in the extended future. Wow, talk about a problem that is so difficult to answer, nothing is correct, and the possibilities are endless. Parts of the question even contradict each other from an engineering standpoint. Sounds like Daggett’s “applications to real world unpredictable situations” is being practiced in some arenas of education. This leads us perfectly into Daniel Pink’s keynote.

Daniel Pink, the author of  A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, described the increasing  role of right-brain thinking in the new  economies and describes the skills  individuals and organizations must possess in this outsourced, automated age. Using brain research, Pink advocates that left brain (orderly, logical, and linear) thinking, while still important, is no longer adequate to survive in the 21st Century global economy. He attributes this theory to the role Asia now plays in the global economy with automation being software driven, and abundance of material in the market place. In essence, routine work is disappearing! Pink advocates that educators prepare kids for their future (right brain), not our past (left brain).He suggests including skills in our curriculum that cannot be outsourcedor automated. He includes such abilities as design, story telling, symphony (ability to see big picture), empathy, play, and meaning. One example used was Google’s idea to allow its employees 20% percent job time for self direction. From this effort, such big projects as G-Mail, and Google News have evolved. Finally, Pink suggested some ideas he feels educators should reflect and implement. Number one, explore the new metrics. IQ only accounts for 20% of success. We need to make sure we are measuring the right things. The next concept involves “getting real about STEM. Pink stressed that STEM must include the Arts because students must be taught to see. Engineering firms want people who have passion, are willing to be  life-long learners, are systems thinkers,  have multicultural values, and can understand interdisciplinary context. The third suggestion is to rethink motivation and look at intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. The fourth idea really caught my attention as Pink suggested moving problem solving out of the terrarium and putting it in the forest. He described the terrarium as an environment  that is much too clean, organized, and not real world. Problems should involve clarification, identification, multi-disciplines, several answers, non-perfection, exploration, challenge, and relevancy. Last, Pink suggests that artistic educational programs must be facilitated, encouraged, and practiced across the curriculum. China has an emphasis that states “Creative Arts are not a frivolous luxury“.  I am anxious to bring the arts concept into my next STEM presentation! Have a little fun fooling your left brain by having your right brain look at this Fedex logo in a different and unique way.

Different and unique  is a great way to describe Alan November. I had the honor to introduce this master of storytelling and thought provoking educational reformer. November emphasized that it is not the technology that will make the change happen, even asking participants to cross it off the program title. He stressed that kids need to be able to learn and use tools at school that are  available in their homes. Education must understand that blocking certain websites is actually contributing to a lack of student awareness of proper and valuable web usage. It is important that the skills we teach today outlast technology change. November emphasized student creativity  as he made the audience aware of Jing and Math Train TV. He also demonstrated a math search engine entitled Wolfram|Alpha. Enter your question or calculation and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and a growing collection of data to compute the answer. While some schools may want to block this because using it could be considered cheating, November suggests allowing students to use it so they instantly know if they are right or wrong in a computation. He then suggested that students create their own multimedia story to explain the process. He also shared an exciting video about sixth sense work using technology. You maybe interested in exploring information on Web Literacy located at November Learning. Located at this site is a great collection of resources to teach students about using the web to retrieve information. Students have a chance to learn there is really no Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus and that Christopher Columbus was not born in Sydney in  Australia in 1951, even though it says so on the web! November also covered the Way Back Machine, and Easy Who Is, to further validate web resources. All of these resources are explained on November Learning. Alan November is truly one of our time’s great thinkers in education and I recommend attending his BLC10 conference in Boston this summer. I have had  the honor to both present and attend. It is a truly an amazing conference that will give you plenty of opportunity to reflect and acquire resources. Perhaps November’s most intruiging statement was that employers are seeking the skill of empathy as they hire. It would be interesting to see who has that concept in their standards beyond definition and  vocabulary!

I did have a chance to attend some other sessions that were truly outstanding. Jim Wenzlof presented a valuable session entitled Read It, Write It, Say It. He introduced innovative ways to use Diigo,  and Skype for teaching literacy. He suggested techniques to allow students to make movie trailers for books using Audacity, PhotoStory, and iMovie.  He also introduced the websites  Lit2Go, Itunes University, and the Story Starter. My favorite was a collaborative site called EtherPad. If you haven’t seen it give it a look! I also had a chance to see the state of Indiana’s new educational service presented by Gary Bates from the DOE called The Learning Connection. It is a service for Indiana educators interested in designing lessons, assessments aligned to standards, or wishing to collaborate and connect with other educators in the state of Indiana. Indiana educators, take the time to register now at The Learning Connection. I also had opportunity to talk with the people at both ePals and NSDL. These are two great organizations that understand 21st Century learning.  I plan to become  more familiar with both in the near future. I appreciated the time and energy both Dr.  Kimberly Lightle from NSDL and Victoria McEachern from ePals spent with me.

As I close I want to thank all those people who attended my session on 21st Century learning. It was my intention to deliver a dynamic presentation to you. I appreciate how nearly 90 people made room for everyone in a room designed for 50. I also hope that the many who could not get in will at least take advantage of the handout sheet left at the door. As promised, the Power Point will be available on the wiki under Presentations. Thank you for all of the kind comments and I hope all of you keep in touch.

Overall it was a truly amazing conference. I was only able to see it from my limited perspective but I can  tell you that it was one of the best I have ever attended. The goal is always to find at least one new idea and I surpassed that with an improved vision for transforming education in the 21st century. I am excited about NMSA10 in Baltimore as I  hope to learn  and contribute even more! Again, thank you to the great staff at both NMSA and IMLEA along with the countless volunteers and presenters. I feel it was a great “Welcome To The Future!” Please feel free to visit the 21st Century Ed Tech Wiki. Your comments, suggestions, and emails are always welcome! Keep up the great work at using technology to facilitate empathy, awareness, and  creativity! They just may be the most important unwritten standards.

-Mike

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