Developing a K12 Online Conference Presentation

I just got news this weekend that I was selected to be one of the workshop presenters for this year’s K12 Online Conference. Actually, the news filtered out through my network earlier in the week but the official email arrived in my box yesterday. I am part of the “Kicking it up a Notch” group.

My presentation is about the Virtual Heroic Journey Project that I do with my sixth graders after they read The Lightning Thief and a graphic novel version of The Odyssey. We use Google Maps and Google Earth to develop their own creative writing assignment in which they are somewhere in the world and must make, like Odysseus, their way home by encountering and battling a series of obstacles and monsters.

So I admit: I had forgotten that I even submitted an idea to the K12 Conference. When my friend, Matt, congratulated me via Twitter, I had to check and see what he was talking about. Doh.

But, I am excited.

This is the second time I have presented — the first time was in a great collaboration with Bonnie around our Collaborative ABC Movie Project that connected teachers around the world as we explored digital storytelling through the concept of an ABC Book.

What’s cool about the K12 Online is that it is free, it is full of interesting presentation, and it is archived forever. Just go to the homepage and you can see links to presentations for every year. Neat.

Peace (in the sharing),


Day in a Sentence rocks on

dayinsentenceiconWow! What a turnout of sentences this week for Day in a Sentence as it makes it return to the ‘Net. Thanks to everyone who participated and to those of you who thought about it but ran out of time. And thanks to those of you who are just reading along with me right now (can you hear me?)

Ken sees magic and probably can now breathe easier.

What it is to be on leave, the exams marked, all the projects checked and a clear week ahead, just like the last: magic!

As many of here in the United States are just starting the year, Anne is just ending her year. Have a great break, Anne!

After two weeks of spring break, I am preparing revision, extra notes, correcting outcomes etc for the final three weeks that I have my senior secondary students before their VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) exams, as this is last term for our school year in Australia.

The world is full of hopefulness.  And it’s a good thing Art knows enough to plan for hope.

I am hoping that if I get behind in my grading really quickly, I will have a lot more time to catch up–a guy can hope!

I can almost feel the energy in Lynn J.’s comments — the active learning commotion of the classroom.

The seventh graders are on the rampage this week, full of questions and comments about absolutely everything!

Yes, Jim, Fridays are nice days.

Wow, It’s Friday. Time to stop and smell the roses.

Ben has his students deep into Hawthornian terrrain.  It sounds deep and exciting there.

My students are chipping away bits and pieces of Hawthorne’s text to reveal characterization.

Good advice here from Shaun. Was this a lesson plan almost gone awry?

If you must leave something to the last moment, be prepared.

Marg‘s thoughts are on the outdoors.

My last week of holidays has involved mowing, pruning, mulching, weeding, planting and watering my garden, which only seems to look this lovely, each set of school holidays. :-)

sara may be leaning in a little close to the plants. just let them be, sara. just let them be. (ha)

it skeeves me out that the spores on the back of ferns on my desk are the ferns’ way of getting it on; i feel like i should be getting dinner and a movie if i’m this close to something so personal.

Ok — Amy — tap into the rebels of the classroom (and hope they don’t see you as the English Monarchy)

As we begin talking about the American Revolution, I am hoping to relate their teenage rebellions or revolutions and feeling about rules to the colonists feelings about the British!

Alex‘s poetic words mask an adventurous spirit! Have fun in those woods!

Experiencing synapse-lapse, my brain flashes back greenery, scent of smoke, crisp air, and rugged mountains, making the classroom seem suddenly claustrophobic; I am so looking forward to four days of wilderness mini-break, starting tonight!

Vacation … vacation … vacation. Come on and say it with me: vacation. It’s what Illya is needing right about now (anyone else?)

It seems hardly a month gone by since the beginning of the school year and yet I’m already looking forward to the next vacation!

(Luckily, in Switzerland we have a two week vacation in the fall after only 6 weeks of school!)

Oooo. A bit of rhyming in Delaine‘s lines.

School is in full swing, with all the madness that brings.

My head was spinning a bit with the math here as Nina talks about the demographics of her class. I love that the diversity is celebrated, Nina.

My intermediate ESL class at the University of Maryland includes twelve students, speaking six different languages, from three continents and eight countries! I am in heaven.

Chocolate cake, Cynthia? Or ice cream cake? Or?

Homecoming week is over; SACS training is over; the rest of the week should be “a piece of cake”!

As the father of three boys, I have made a mental note of Mary H‘s list here. Maybe you should, too. And I can’t help but wonder about the backstory behind this sentence.

Tomatoes, superglue, duct tape, bubble solution–things to keep away from three teenage brothers.

Gosh, Connie, your sentence is beautiful on so many levels.

Weaving a fabric of knowledge in my fifth grade class; linking all subjects in a huge tapestry that has “change” as its central theme.

Gail P and I are starting to speak the same language — which is good, since we are colleagues. But I think that this year’s push into Literacy and other areas will be helpful for teachers like Gail (Kindergarten) and me (Sixth grade) to converse about our school curriculum in meaningful ways. Right, Gail?

Communities of practice and standard based report cards are helping teachers communicate about how we can all assess with the same tools, and benchmarks.

Tracy had experiential learning on her mind — something I wrote about in my own Day in a Sentence the other day.

I’m jealous of Kevin though remembering community building with our students as we zip lined on the first day and apple picked last week, also thinking that community building is an ongoing process and can’t end when we pack up at the end of a fun day.

Mary gives a good recipe for creativity in the digital age.

Word and images, images and words, add music and narration for a digital composition in Photo Story 3.

May the End soon arrive for you, Cheryl, so that you may begin again.

Our students and teachers are in a holding pattern while waiting for our state wide testing to come to an end.

Peace (to all of you in this interesting sentence community),

Introducing: Principal Penn

First, let me say that this character is NOT inspired by my own principal. Mine is hip with technology and a brave explorer and an avid advocate. But I felt that Mr. Teach is going to need an adult foil as the Boolean Squared comic progresses, and what better foil than a principal who is clueless to what is going on with Boolean, Urth and others.

Peace (in the hallways),

Core Principles of National Writing Project

The National Writing Project (0f which I am part of) recently released its updated Vision Statement. It is thoughtful and a great way to think about both the organization (inclusive, open and giving leadership to teachers) and writing itself.

Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.

Here are the Core Principles of NWP:

The core principles at the foundation of NWP’s national program model are:

  • Teachers at every level—from kindergarten through college—are the agents of reform; universities and schools are ideal partners for investing in that reform through professional development.
  • Writing can and should be taught, not just assigned, at every grade level. Professional development programs should provide opportunities for teachers to work together to understand the full spectrum of writing development across grades and across subject areas.
  • Knowledge about the teaching of writing comes from many sources: theory and research, the analysis of practice, and the experience of writing. Effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write and to examine theory, research, and practice together systematically.
  • There is no single right approach to teaching writing; however, some practices prove to be more effective than others. A reflective and informed community of practice is in the best position to design and develop comprehensive writing programs.
  • Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.

You can read the entire Mission Statement here.

Peace (in the words),


Today: rafting; Tomorrow: writing

Today, we take our entire sixth grade on a whitewater rafting trip down the Deerfield River. It looks like it might be mostly sunny, but cold. Darn that cold! But the leaves are changing already and so maybe we will have some wonderful foliage on our 10-mile ride on the river.

Tomorrow, I head out to the University of Massachusetts for the annual Best Practices in the Teaching of Writing conference offered through my Western Massachusetts Writing Project. The day will be filled with writing, activities, workshops and inspiration to bring back to the classroom.

I’m attending a workshop on poetry inspired by art and then a session about using hip-hop influences in the classroom. The keynote address is by Dr. Lisa Green, whom I am told is an inspiring teacher who will center on the topic of how student’s language can differ from classroom language, and what happens then? If I have time, I may stay for the writing workshop session at the end of the day, too.

Peace (in the weekend),

Soul Music for the Cyborg Soul

Today’s comic continues the arc of Cylene the Cyborg getting the flu (due to the ever-present Dancing Chicken video that the boys are obsessed with) and getting healthy again — with a little soul music on the side.

Peace (in the groove),