K12 Online Conference workshops

The K12 Online Conference kicked into high gear yesterday with the start of some workshops presentations. Everything seems to be podcasts and videocasts and there were some explorations of new tools and collaborative efforts in the workshops released into the wild yesterday (everything is virtual with K12).

Go ahead – check it out at the K12 site. More workshops are on tap for today (and every day for the next two weeks — including the one Bonnie and I created that gets sent into the public view on Monday)

Peace (in virtual space),

Week in a Sentence: The Reflective Dogtrax

As promised, I am sitting in for The Reflective Teacher (who may be off reflecting or something — not sure) and hosting his Week in a Sentence feature, which I have really come to love for narrowing my own week down and for reading the week of others. What a fantastic idea.

Anyway, I will start off with a podcast. This comes from a workshop I gave at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project this weekend on podcasting, and as a hands-on activity, we created a podcast version of their own Week in a Sentence — with great results.

Listen to the WMWP teachers

Next up is Karen, who is off to see the Red Sox play (did I mention I am a Yankees’ fan in a house full of Red Sox fans — doh), who writes:

Tickets to a Red Sox playoff game in my pocket – I SO did not want to teach this week anticipating my trip to Boston and my first playoff game ever! Go Red Sox!

Matt, who just interviewed me for a project he is doing on claymation and moviemaking in the classroom, writes about the act of teaching:

I modeled a writing lesson today where I tried to come up with writing ideas live in front of a audience of squirrelly second graders and it did effectively hold their interest.

My friend, Bonnie, is up in Vermont, enjoying the foliage season, and she writes:

What’s a week without Boil Down…Today it’ all about Al for me…BRAVO, the Nobel Peace Prize…how will this event impact on our political landscape…I’m hoping for an Al Gore for President….I know, pie in the sky…that’s okay…off to Vermont to take some photos…

Nancy has a wedding to get to! (open bar? I bet teaching is far from her mind right now)

So thankful for the 4-day week; and now it’s wedding time–see you in two weeks!

My colleague from the WMWP, Susan, writes about her travels in her role as a leader and inspiration in the writing project:

The power of and learning from collaboration has pulled me from Amherst, to Berkeley, to Billings and home again this week guiding my work forward.

2,000 teenagers in one room, screaming and shouting! Sounds fun! It was for our friend, Graycie in this extended-sentence entry (which is perfectly fine by me):

Fearing the worst, I was part of the faculty keep-them-from-fighting/escaping team during the very first pep rally in our new gym which meant that for the first time all 2,000 teenagers would be in a confined space being mightily pumped up by loud music, louder cheering, scantily-clad cheerleaders, popular sports dudes and a very loud microphone. I was wrong; they cheered and yelled and danced in the bleachers and sang and hollered for the teams and the cheerleaders weren’t raunchy and it was just: So. Much. Fun.

Jody was thinking of chickens this week. That’s right — chickens.

So … our school wide topic is ‘Things with Wings’ which brings me to having made endless phone calls (which led to other possible leads and yet more phone calls) in hope of finding some fertilized chicken eggs to hatch in class. I have the incubator, not eggs yet. Teaching – always taking me on a weird tangent or three throughout the week!

If you missed the opportunity, be sure to go to The Reflective Teacher next week and add your thoughts. We’d love to read (and hear!) you.

Peace (in connections),

What Students Say

The folks over at the Digital Ethnography site (who do some fascinating work) created this video about what college students are really saying and experiencing in their lives in this digital age. They used a Google Docs to have more than 200 students edit a document and create surveys of each other.


[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/dGCJ46vyR9o" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (with information),

Your Day/Week in a Sentence

Since my good friend, The Reflective Teacher, is taking a break this week from his wonderful Boil Your Day Down Into One Sentence feature, I told him I would be glad to host this week’s edition.

So, if you want to participate, use the comment feature here on this post, write and submit your sentence  (and even better, write your sentence and also provide me with a podcast version — you can even email me the audio file at dogtrax(at)gmail(dot)com and I will host it for you), and I will collate it all before the end of the weekend.

Peace (in community),

Something Strange

I read about this Reactable instrument somewhere and then I found these clips on YouTube (where else?) and I am not sure what to make of it. It is called a “tangible interface” instrument, which means that you manipulate the sounds with objects and space between the objects, on a surface board of light and electricity.

It reminds me of a professor I had in college who had been part of the New York City experimental music scene and then ended up in our dinky little college. He used to have us create all these different sounds, using different tonal patterns and (gasp) reaching into the grand pianos and plucking strings, banging on parts, etc, as a way to get beyond the traditional aspects of composition. We often did this with the door closed so that the other music teachers would not see us, since putting your hands in the guts of a grand piano is often a huge no-no. I remember composing this very bizarre piece for prepared piano and soprano sax — I worked hard at it, trying to get it just right — and when we played it live, it was as if I were in another world. We shook off melody and harmony in order to achieve something new.

Anyway, take a look at the Reactable:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/0h-RhyopUmc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/vm_FzLya8y4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in experimental music),

WMWP Best Practices: Beyond the Basics

The Western Massachusetts Writing Project is hosting its annual Best Practices this coming weekend, which not only allows our folks from the Summer Institute to shine as workshop presenters but also showcases much of the work that the organization is doing.

I am giving a workshop presentation on podcasting and my hope is to post some of the audio we record at this blog and at our WMWP Newsletter blog. We also have a great local writer — Leslea Newman, author of many books for kids and adults — who will be leading a writing event for all of the day’s participants.

Here are a few of the other workshops on tap for that day:

  • Why Write in Math? Communicating the Metacognitive Process of Problem Solving.
  • Thinking and Rethinking Strategies for Working with English Language Learners.
  • Thoughts in the Looking Glass: Reflective Writing in the Classroom.
  • Writing Portfolios: Helping Students to See Themselves as Writers
  • Assessment in Backwards Design
  • Walking Tall: Autobiographical Writing

Looks pretty interesting, doesn’t it?

Peace (in the gathering),

Web 2.0 profile

Steve H., whose creation of Classroom 2.0 got me interested in Ning social networking platforms, just published an article about Web 2.0 in education and in an accompanying wiki companion to his article, he features folks who are using different tools in the classroom.

I had responded to Steve’s initial request for folks using tech in the classroom, andI wrote a bit about using a Wiki to create a collaborative dictionary with my sixth graders. So I find myself in good company on Steve’s list of teachers. You can view all of the teacher profiles and projects that Steve is featuring at his own wiki site. There are some great ideas there and inspiring teachers for all of us to follow.

And here is his master list:







Peace (with profiles),

K12 Online Conference … begins today

The 2007 edition of the K12 Online Conference begins today with a keynote podcast by David Warlick on the theme of “Inventing New Boundaries.” Here is a full schedule of events for the virtual conference.

As some readers may know, Bonnie Kaplan (of the Hudson Valley Writing Project) and I are also presenters later on in the month on the topic of our Collaborative ABC Movie project. It’s been interesting to try to develop a workshop in which people need to download presentations on their own time and where there is very little live interaction. Bonnie and I created a podcast, a movie and then a series of steps that lead to some interactive experimentation by folks. (Our presentation gets released on Monday, October 22)

Here is the description of the month-long event:

The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2007 conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 8, 2007. The following two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

Hope to have you there — there are plenty of great presentations on tap.

Peace (in possibilities),

K-12 Online Conference 2007

One Laptop Per Child/XO

David Pogue of the New York Times has posted a very positive review (and nice video, too) of the new XO computer that is part of the One Laptop Per Child effort to create an inexpensive, portable, destruction-resistant computer for children of the developing world. The machines are open-source, so no Windows, which may shock some folks but keeps the price reasonable.

Pogue notes that the programming can become visible to students, too, as ” … one keystroke reveals the underlying code of almost any XO program or any Web page. Students can not only study how their favorite programs have been written, but even experiment by making changes. (If they make a mess of things, they can restore the original.)” I love that idea of showing them code, and allowing them to tinker (but also to return to zero if everything falls apart)

And they are also going to be offering up a buy-one-yourself/give-one-away-to-a-kid sale next month, and when I told my wife that I was toying with the idea, I think her reaction was a mix of “We need more technology in our lives?” and “Sounds like a good way to help children in the world” so we’ll see what happens.

Peace (in the giving),

Bruce kicks off tour and I am there

I got a call from a friend, asking me if I wanted to see Bruce Springsteen as he kicked off his Magic tour in Hartford, so of course, I said, heck yes. I think he is still going strong as a songwriter and the last time I saw Bruce live, he just amazed me with his stage presence and ability to command an entire audience from the stage. He is back with the E Street band, which is a mixed blessing. They can rock but it is all about loudness and power and not so much about finesse. Still, anytime a crowd of thousands gives a saxophone player a standing ovation for playing five notes, I have to cheer (as a sax player myself).

The show was fantastic — a mix of new stuff from his new album (which is out today, I think) that is pop and also lyrically strong, challenging the Bush administration on the loss of basic rights and looking to a new future. The older songs also rocked, and the highlight had to have been an over-the-top version of Reason to Believe, an old acoustic song from the album, Nebraska.

Here is a review of the concert.

Peace (from a tired teacher),