Day in a Sentence: December 19

Larry did an outstanding job with the Day in the Sentence feature last week and I want to invite you all to join the growing community of contributors. And thanks to Cheryl for the mention at the TechLearning site, too. Day in Sentence Icon

It is simple:

  • Boil down your week or a day into a single sentence
  • Use the comment feature here to share your sentence (comments are moderated so be alarmed if they don’t show up)
  • Please leave your blog address so that we can link to you and expand our community of Web-based contacts
  • I encourage you to podcast your sentence — either provide a link to your own podcast hosting site or you can email your mp3 file to me at dogtrax(at)gmail(dot)com if you want.
  • I will compile all of the writing all for release on Sunday

Here is my sentence (and you can listen as a podcast, too):

I entered the delicate art of negotiations with 11 year olds this week as I tried to make them understand that a puppet play for little kids should probably not have references to Brittany Spears coming out of rehab nor should the play have characters being sent off to a “special needs facility” as some kind of punishment nor should we celebrate the life of “gangsters,” and I once again realized how much my students are caught up in the collision of pop culture and media overload.

Peace (in collaboration),
Kevin

A Podcasting Gift to Students

I normally don’t give out class presents. I figure that my presence and energy each and every day is enough (hopefully) of a gift to my students. They work hard, and I work hard, and we all have fun. This year, however, as I was sharing some of my podcast work with the sixth graders at this blog, a friend suggested that I burn the audio files onto a CD for families who might not have access to the classroom blog where the podcasts are shared.

What a great idea, and so I went ahead, and burned each of my homeroom students (20 of ’em) a copy of their voices, with a quick intro and outro from me, and then used some new CD package software to create CD covers for them.

It didn’t take much time and I believe it will be most appreciated by the parents and students.

Peace (in sharing voices),
Kevin

Students 2.0

A group of students — reflective, opinionated and resourceful — have started up a wonderful site to give voice to those minds in our classrooms who feel frustrated and confined by much of the educational practice of our world.

The site is called Students 2.o and you can sense the exploration and learning and leadership that is being developed there by these students from across the world, as they use a blog for a platform for their views. They are advocates for change, and they are articulating the need for that change in new ways.

I hope teachers are listening (or it is another case of the teachers who are reading Students 2.0 already believe and the ones these students need to reach don’t even know how to find such a blog? I know the answer to my question, don’t you?)

Here is the first part of the Students 2.0 mission statement:

For decades, students have been stuck in classrooms, behind desks, being told how and what to learn. For a time, when students were expected to become widgets for the vast machine of industry, this model of education was highly effective. However, we have now entered a new age: an age where thinking is more important than knowing, where thoughts out-do the facts. Borders are melting away; project teams collaborate across the globe and intelligence is being continually redefined. The world’s information is at our fingertips and anybody can publish their thoughts for virtually no cost.

Peace (in empowering students),
Kevin

The Puppets! The Puppets!

Each December is puppet creation and theater writing for my sixth graders, and it is always a flurry of panic (we perform for younger kids this week!!) as time runs out, scripts are completed and puppets are constructed. I usually try to film the puppet shows for the web (and will try this week) but until then, I created this little video so that parents can get a glimpse of what we are doing.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-2300864688933673392" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

(I taught a group of my students how to use my Super Dooper Music Looper software and then I asked them to create the soundtrack for the video)

You can also access a few of the scripts as PDF files (all plays revolve around an invented holiday):

Peace (in puppets),
Kevin

Day in a Sentence: New Voices

Larry Ferlazzo took the reins of Day in a Sentence this week (head to Larry’s site) and as a result, there were many new and wonderful voices as part of the mix, including some of Larry’s own students (which is an interesting concept). I like that Larry’s connections brought in people from other parts of the world and I hope they continue to contribute to the feature.

I am going to host the feature again this coming week (be on the lookout for the typical midweek announcement) and then we may take a week off for holiday vacation, and then return with Matt Needleman at the helm as guest host.

Peace (in collaboration),
Kevin

A Poem for Bella

We put our family dog, Bella, down to sleep yesterday and so it was a very sad time for all of us here, as our three young boys have known her as a friend and protector, and she was the first dog that I ever owned.

We also had a snowstorm here in New England during her final days and the pure whiteness of the snow, and its temporary nature, reminded me of her white coat of fur and those thoughts and the sadness of making the decision to end her life to spare her suffering sparked this poem in her memory.

All One of the Same (for Bella)
Listen to the Poem

I covet the unblemished snow —
the blanket of white replenished in this candlelight’s flickering glow —
knowing all the while how temporary this is
and how this earth will surely rise up to reclaim it
for another time;
another place.
It is all one of the same.
This flurry of contemplation brings on such a sudden sadness of loss,
so I reach out my fingers to gather up every flake falling
in order to watch the world disappear.
I hold tight to the memory of the moment
so that it
— all of it: the snow, the whiteness, the love —
may live on inside of me forever.

Peace (in dog heaven),
Kevin

Radio Lab

This site crossed my Bloglines from Brian Lamb’s site and I listened to it with headphones and was blown away. (It kind of reminded me of Pink Floyd, but as a podcast and around the topic of science, if that makes any sense at all).

It’s called Radio Lab and it a radio show from NYC that is also a podcast. It’s worth your time to take a listen. Notice how they effectively use audio editing and the concept of the Internet connections and Web 2.0 in their shows.

radio_lab_logo_lg.jpg

Here is one of the shows that could be called Sound is Touch at a Distance in which the creators of the show talk about what sound is and how it can be used to tell a story. I particularly like the “telling” of what sound waves look like and what that means to us as listeners and scientists (heck, we are all scientists, if you think about it, charting new discoveries every day).

Peace (in podcasts),
Kevin

Happy Birthday to Blogs

[kml_flashembed movie="http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=33484" width="400" height="300" wmode="transparent" /]

What has blogging meant for you as a teacher and writer?
Wikipedia marks December 17 as the official Birthday of the Weblog and some folks — including Steve, the creator of Classroom 2.0 — have created a site (via a blog, of course) to celebrate its impact. The site is called Celebrating Educational Blogging and the VoiceThread above is from that blog and it asks you to post some reflections on what impact blogging has had for you. (You can also leave comments right at the celebration blog site).

I love this intro from the site:

Some of us believe that blogging, as one of the great entry points into the “read/write” web (or “Web 2.0”), is having a transformative impact on education and learning, and that we are at the start of a new renaissance that will be defined by the participatory, contributive, and collaborative nature of the Web.

What? You haven’t tried VoiceThread yet? Here is a wonderful chance. Just sign up and click your microphone and start threading your thoughts.

Peace (in blogs),
Kevin

Day in Sentence on the move: Larry’s Place

We continue to expand the ownership of the Day in a Sentence and this week, Larry Ferlazzo has agreed to become your gentle host of sentences. (no words will be hurt in this production — promise).

Larry has a terrific resource blog that may be geared towards ESL/ELL families and teachers but it proves the concept of universal design — everything he shares seems valuable to anyone.

So, please, meander over to Larry’s site, take a look around and then boil down your week or day into a sentence and post it at his site. He intends to release our words to the world on Sunday.

Peace (in virtual partnerships),
Kevin

Writing in a Digital Age: NWP Resources

In NYC last month, I helped organize and lead a presentation entitled “Writing in the Digital Age: Using Media in the Classroom” with three other National Writing Project teachers. The session went well, with about 75 people in attendance. In the aftermath of the presentation, we decided to pull together our presentations and resources and create a webpage for folks at the session and for others, too.

You can head to the resource page and then also find a link to the reflective notes from the various tables, as we asked people to consider how they could integrate technology further into their classrooms and into their writing project sites.

I used the simple Google Page Creator to pull these together, along with the slideshows, podcasts and links embedded into the site for easy access.

Peace (in sharing),
Kevin