Tag Archives: collaboration

Free: Visual Ranking Thinking Tool… Powerful Student Collaboration!

Welcome to a series of articles based on Intel Thinking Tools, an amazing set of free tools from Intel. The three tools I will be  highlighting in this and future posts are are just a small set of what Intel offers for free. The tool I include today is called the Visual Ranking Tool , one of Intel’s Online Thinking Tools. The description matches nicely and there are endless possibilities for the classroom. Before starting, remember to sign up via email or RSS and also,  follow me on twitter (mjgormans) to keep learning! I know after this read you will be creating visual ranking lessons that connect to your curriculum in no time! Have a great week! – Mike

Visual Ranking Tool -“The exercise of ordering your favorites…ranking one a level higher than another, and then articulating why you chose the way you did-requires a depth and clarity of consideration and comparison that inspires richer appreciation and enjoyment.” – Michael J. Gelb, from his book; How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Let me first introduce you to Visual Ranking, my personal favorite of this three tool set. Intel describes using this tool by stating, “Making a list is usually straightforward and requires little thought. But when it comes to ordering and prioritizing items in that list, higher-level skills of analysis and evaluation are put to use”. The Visual Ranking Tool allows students to focus their thinking behind creating ordered lists. Students practice identifying and refining criteria as they assign order or rank to a list. Collaboration is emphasized as students are given the opportunity to explain their reasoning and can compare their work with each other in a visual diagram. They can even compare their results with the reasoning of other groups, and even a class average. Imagine activities where students practice organizing their ideas, debate individual differences, and reach group consensus. Check out this overview of the tool and the research describing the benefits of this type of high order thinking activity for students.

Watch this video to get a better idea. After watching the video, try this quick demo to give you a better understanding.  Take a moment and explore Intel’s resources of units and plans for this tool. While Intel provides awesome ideas, you are also able to come up with your own ideas for rankings that may just fit into your curricular standards.  There are many lessons on the web that could incorporate this tool. One example is Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure. Note the list that is part of  the lesson. Astrosociety.org has this great lunar activity that could be adapted for use with Visual Ranking. I have used Visual Ranking in teacher professional development, asking educators to rank 21st Century Skills. It has been a great way to enhance the idea of 21st Century Skills while giving teachers an opportunity to learn a new tool. Intel also includes these instructional strategies which covers planning a lesson, implementing a project, and assessing student work.

Best of all, Intel has included a private project area for teachers to set up lessons, class lists, and collaborative groups. Students then log in to the secure teacher area. Collaboration can occur from any computer at school or at home. Teachers have the ability to monitor and asses student work on line, and even leave important feedback. It really is the type of program that many teachers are using the day after a short in-service. Take a moment and explore Visual Ranking, a tool that will apply to any curricular area while enhancing 21st Century Skills.

Thanks for joining me once again on the important journey of transforming education to fit the 21st century. Remember to sign up via email or RSS and also, follow me on twitter (mjgormans). I also have hundreds of resources available for free at my 21centuryedtech Wiki! Enjoy the week as you introduce new tools that encourage your students think! – Mike

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EtherPad… It’s Back As: TitanPad…Collaboration Made Simple!

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. Late last year, EtherPad, a plain and simple collaboration tool, was purchased by Google to be incorporated in the Google Wave and Google Doc product. EtherPad then disappeared! I am happy to proclaim there is a new Etherpad called  TitanPad!  I was so happy to see an old friend back that I wrote two posts in one day!  Read On! – Mike (@mjgormans) on twitter

EtherPad had been known as a valuable tool, allowing instant  and  easy collaboration for students and teachers.  As the site had proclaimed, “Etherpad is simply the most frictionless way to get people on the same page.” The real attraction to EtherPad was 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. When Etherpad turned off the lights and  disappeared I needed to find a product that matched it in simplicity and usability! While Wallwisher and CoSketch are awesome tools, neither quite matched simple, reliable, EtherPad!

Until the introduction of TitanPad!  Its collaboration the easy way, again!  All that is needed is a visit to http://titanpad.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 TitanPad. The user then shares the URL  for the pad with 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. TitanPad 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. The Austrian based group has even stated that subdomains are coming soon! TitanPad is based on the open-source release of EtherPad.  If you were use to EtherPad  – you’ll feel like at home with TitanPad, it works exactly the same. It is sure nice to have an old friend back!

Hope this post helps you out and as always feel free to follow me on Twitter at (@mjgormans), I will return the favor and we can learn from each other. Also remember,  I will be hosting one of the ISTE: Technology In Practice Webinar Series on May 12, 2010. Please join me there and at my 21centuryedtech Wiki.  I look forward to your future visits and remind you to subscribe to this blog by email or RSS. Make sure you take a look at TitanPad and enjoy easy collaboration!  Have a great week! – Mike

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Collaboration, a 21st Century Skill: Three Free Sites To Help Students Understand Collaboration

Picture Courtesy of http://www.lumaxart.com/

I am sitting in Wichita, Kansas after providing a day long tech integration in-service to an amazing  and creative group of middle school teachers. While I hope I was able to facilitate technology infusion to a group already at the cutting edge of education reform, I too walked away with new ideas they indirectly taught me. This experience reminded me of “The Wisdom Of The Crowd” and how collectively we are much more effective as a group than we are as an individual. In this posting I would like to share with you the idea of collaboration and how we may wish to ask students to collaborate, but we first must show them how and why. Please enjoy the post and add any response on how you facilitate collaboration.  As always you can follow me on on twitter at (mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow back so we can learn from each other. Also, please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, it’s filled with great resources that are free and effective!  – Mike

This first paragraph contains reflections on the definition of collaboration, if you wish to go to links that help students understand collaboration. If not, go on to the second paragraph. Collaboration is a Twenty-First Century Skill. It is also a  process and that all students need to experience it in order to fully comprehend its potential.   Wikipedia defines collaboration as “a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature —by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus”.  In the definition, the word recursive is found. The definition of recursive involves the idea of an  “infinite statement using finite components” Looking at collaboration in this sense sure makes collaboration sound a lot more powerful! The definition ends with  the idea of sharing knowledge, learning, and building consensus. Most teachers have the sharing portion down pretty well, and is  inspiring to note  the learning component. What is most impressive, but possibly underused, is the last concept of  building consensus!  Further into the article there is a reference to a Roth and Lee study in the 1990’s that “led to changes in learning and teaching design in which students were encouraged to share their ways of doing mathematics, history, science, with each other. In other words, that children take part in the construction of consensual domains, and ‘participate in the negotiation and institutionalization of … meaning'”. (Roth, W-M. and Lee, Y-J. (2006) Contradictions in theorizing and implementing communities in education. Educational Research Review, 1, (1), pp27–40.) In other words, learning communities were being recognized for students. So, how do we develop and show importance for developing collaborative learning communities.? I suggest the following three free web sites that may allow teachers to begin to build a foundation for the understanding of collaboration.

I have spent time with James Surowiecki‘s book “Wisdom of Crowds” which I will say is an important read for educators. Your students can enjoy listening to portions of the book. In fact, PBS has created a page that highlights the important concepts of the book for students. You will find it at Nova’s Science Now Site. Here you will find relevant videos and a few activities. Students can watch a video including  Surowiecki’s book highlights or another video that includes a case study of a WWII submarine.  Included are activities entitled Counting CabsOne Minute Expert, and  Differences Between Mean and Median. There is even a transcript of the video. Be sure to check out the related Random House Site because it contains questions and answers with the author along with excerpts and even audio clips that could be used in podcasts.

If you are not aware of TED.com , be ready to visit  an awesome site of  amazing technology and innovation videos. If you are aware, you must be sure to visit the theme devoted to The Rise Of Collaboration.  TED is a small,  but rapidly growing, nonprofit group devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from the  three worlds of  Technology, Entertainment, and Design. In the theme devoted to The Rise Of Collaboration you will find Jimmy Wales telling  the story of perhaps the movement’s most famous example, Wikipedia . Also included is Richard Baraniuk as he envisions a  free global education system to which thousands of teachers could contribute. In an awesome presentation,  Charles Leadbeater gives examples of collaborative innovation that predate the World Wide Web, and  Cameron Sinclair wants to shelter the world by providing an online platform for open-source architecture. Don’t miss as Deborah Gordon shows  the inspiration of collaboration as she reveals the world of  the desert anthill. Included in the TED collection are nearly fifty videos that highlight the world of collaboration in an exciting and engaging way.

Another great site for assisting in teaching the collaborative process is Your Take. It demonstrates the true power found in a group working together.    The site emphasizes that a real  key to success inside and outside the classroom is the ability to think critically and  go beyond grades.  The authors of this site have developed a unique tool called SCAN .  The SCAN program promotes an interactive and collaborative way for students to use technology to analyze and problem solve an issue. The letters in SCAN stand for:  S – Stop and think things through, C – Clarify the key issues, A – Ask yourself what’s most important, N – Now, what’s your next step. Lessons can be taught as an individual or group activity. Students use the web to follow these guidelines and reflect on various points of view. The end product is a group effort that can be used as a project, writing prompt, or presentation. A  video provided by Your Take gives a clear demonstration  of how this program works. The program has nearly one hundred pre-made lessons with prompts. I advise you to not stop there. Use lessons that you have used in the past and integrate them using this outstanding technology. Include standards found in your curriculum to better understand past issues in history, current topics of today, and future problems that will need solutions only found through the efforts of a group. An archived Webinar provides an even  more thorough examination of  “Your Take”. It provides great information on the ways to set up this online collaborative environment in a safe and effective way. A list of sample of standards,  including 21st century technology standards can also be found on the Your Take Web Site.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. As you can see, this post is dedicated to teachers wanting to facilitate real collaboration in their classroom. I will close with the idea that true (PBL) Project Based Learning and 21st Century Learning require that students collaborate in the planning of the learning process. Perhaps modeling is still the very best method to teach and facilitate. Have a great week and as always you can follow me on on twitter at (mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow back so we can learn from each other. As always please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, it’s filled with great resources that are free and effective! – Mike

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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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It’s Free – Intel Provides An Amazing Tool To Assess 21st Century Skills

 

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler an American futurist.

This quote found on the front page of the Intel’s Assessing Project Tool web site gives a foundation  and premise for Intel’s  free educational resource . For those trying to assess 21century skills, this site provides some practical tools and resources to answer this question. Not only does Intel provide a unique interface to construct a rubric, it includes theory, rational, best practices, and outstanding examples. It is more then an assessment tool, if used correctly it allows teacher’s to truely transform their practice using a planning process that starts with the end and involves on-going assessment. Please take a moment to read over my review and explore the links that will highlight some of the outstanding attitibutes of this site. As always, take a moment to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki .  If you have 21century skill assessment practices to share please post a reply or send an email. I enjoy reading and make it a practice to answer each and every e-mail. – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

The biggest question I get from teachers when conducting workshops on technology integration and 21st century skills remains, “How do you assess the 21st century skills?”  While it is important to make sure content standards are integrated and assessed in student projects, many times the 21st century skills are loosely incorporated and assessed . This leaves students often confused with the attempted integration of  21st century skill, resulting in a goal never achieved. Once again, as most research suggests, it is important that all projects are designed with the end in mind. The conclusion includes both content standards, and the 21st century skills that are to be acheived by students. This end, is a part of the planning process that is communicated to students in the form of a rubric. The rubric must act as a guide while students engage with the project’s on-going process.

This preparation can be time consuming for the educator, which is why I invite you to explore Intel Education’s Assessing Projects Tool. I am a long time fan of the Intel Thinking  Tools. I am just as impressed with the Assessing  Projects Tool.  Intel states, “When assessment drives instruction, students learn more and become more confident, self-directed learners. Assessing Projects helps teachers create assessments that address 21st century skills and provides strategies to make assessment an integral part of their teaching and help students understand content more deeply, think at higher levels, and become self-directed learners”.

The site overview page  gives the benefits of assessing projects, numerous references and authoritive writings,  and some outstanding assessment based websites  based on 21st century education. Learn more about the purpose of assessment, various assessments that go beyond tests, papers, and oral presentations, and how formative assessment which is continuous and ongoing promotes real achievement. Additionally, while higher-order thinking such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and metacognition, can be a challenge. this tool explores methods for assessing thinking. Last, this tool explores what components are necessary for successful assessment in a school.

Intel gives you the opportunity to Try It.  Here you can try a Demo to explore the Assessment Library and examine checklists, rubrics, and scoring guides on thinking skills, processes, products, and performances. There is also a video tutorial that allows you to see how features of the Assessing Projects application work in the classroom. You can also view a great animation of the process which helps simplify the process. Explore some example project assessment forms for both the elementary and secondary level. Intel states that assessment strategies can be broken into five main categories. While not all methods within a category are needed, all categories should be included in an assessment plan. The categories included are Strategies for Gauging Student Needs ,  Strategies for Encouraging Self-Direction and Collaboration,  Strategies for Monitoring ProgressStrategies for Checking for Understanding and Encouraging Metacognition,  and Strategies for Demonstrating Understanding and Skill. There is also an area that describes the planning of assessment, the changing of assessment strategies, and some sample lesson plans complete with timeline of project, venn diagram, table, and assessment timeline. I find it useful to use the large selection of pre-made rubics and modify and save them to my Intel Work Space. From here they can be exported as a Word or Excel file.

In conclusion, Intel offers a top of the line tool that is free to educators. There are other tools which I will explore in future posts but I do suggest that anyone exploring assessment of 21st century skills take a look at the Intel Assessing Projects Tool for its ease of use, vast resources of information,  on-line productivity, and theory behind practice. While it acts as a rubric machine, it goes much farther by transtorming educational practice. Please feel free to email or post. I am interested in learning about other tools available for 21st century assessment.  While taking your journey in 21st century education, please visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

 

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Time For “Your Take” – An Interactive Site That Promotes “The Wisdom Of The Crowd”

yourtake2

Once in a while a truly unique site is created that promotes genuine 21st Century Skills using technology. A site that provides tools that  assist students in  reflecting, questioning, collaborating, thinking globally, gathering facts, analyzing, and seeking solutions is currently available for free!  Your Take demonstrates the true power found in a group working together.  Students must learn thos process if they are to successfully compete  in the global world of the 21st Century.  Your Take,  an effort made possible by the Tregoe Education Forum,  can be found at www.yourtake.org.  The site emphasizes that a real  key to success inside and outside the classroom is the ability to think critically and  go beyond grades.  The authors of this site have developed a unique tool called SCAN .  The SCAN program promotes an interactive and collaborative way for students to use technology to analyze and problem solve an issue. The letters in SCAN stand for:

S – Stop and think things through

C – Clarify the key issues

A – Ask yourself what’s most important

N – Now, what’s your next step

Lessons can be taught as an individual or group activity. Students use the web to follow these guidelines and reflect on various points of view. The end product is a group effort that can be used as a project, writing prompt, or presentation. A  video provided by Your Take gives a clear demonstration  of how this program works. The program has nearly one hundred pre-made lessons with prompts. I advise you to not stop there. Use lessons that you have used in the past and integrate them using this outstanding technology. Include standards found in your curriculum to better understand past issues in history, current topics of today, and future problems that will need solutions only found through the efforts of a group. An archived Webinar provides an even  more thorough examination of Your Take. It provides great information on the ways to set up this online collaborative environment in a safe and effective way. A list of sample of standards,  including 21st century technology standards can also be found on the Your Take Web Site.

As you become familiar with this amazing site please feel free to post ideas, plans, and thoughts you may have on using this tool in education. I also invite you to read a book entitled, The Wisdom of Crowds ,by James Surowiecki. It is a must read for twenty-first century educators as they affirm mission and vision for facilitating student growth in twenty-first century skills. After all, we are a crowd of educators  and together our collective wisdom has unlimited potential! Feel free to join the constantly growing crowd at my wiki entitled 21centuryedtech at www. 21centuryedtech.wikispaces.com . It really is time for you to become even more familiar with  Your Take!

Mike  (21centuryedtech)

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