Archive for the ‘New Idears.’ Category

So….the technology labs within my school District are old. Not just old but oooold old. Not updated and pushing way past the best practice of a 3 year rotating cycle. Well here we had two choices, keep on keeping on repeating how labs have been designed in D124 for the past umteenth years OR… we could make a change.

We are making that change.

In the Fall at one of the schools within the District the lab will move from a traditional lab to a Room of Choice filled with –

  • A Technology Mashup of Laptops, Desktops & Tablets
  • Spaces for Collaboration
  • A Large Meeting Area
  • Lots of Whiteboard Spots
  • A Green Screen Studio

Here is a rough breakdown of it’s shiny new look! When my son asked me what I was doing as I was working in Google Draw, I told him what would be happening at one of the school’s and he said

“oh so it’s like a vending machine.”

I kinda dig that.



Today I got to take my kids and visit a “start up” company, which actually turned out to be a start up floor in a high rise in the city. There were about 12 or so start up companies all on this floor, filling up offices, sitting on a random variety of chairs, balls, even the floor – creating – some without shoes on, some without! I think it is funny, as teachers, technology or otherwise we almost forget how other professions work. People really do negotiate their contracts, “lunch”, and get time to think! It was groovy for me to see how MentorMob and its crew worked. Granted I am not a start up company guru but you know i have seen pictures of the Google Campus – duh.

Hanging out on the 25th floor, I got to share my ideas with MentorMob and my kids got to talk to some of the founders of the web app and ask questions and learn stuff. What? They were learning stuff – “but mom we were just going to meet your friends”. Yet they learned a bunch – through flow charts and trial & error and diagrams. They learned and talked about it later with me, teaching me what they learned. It was like hiding vegetables in their hamburgers! It was like shoving the cauliflower in their meatloaf – they had no idea! It is this authentic learning – involving technology or not – that really change and effect us as people and what we take with us on our adventures.

MentorMob works that way. It allows playlists of websites or files to be created and shared publicly or privately, and commented upon (you can work a pop quiz in there too!). It is a pretty slick web app and I know the original thought from the company is that it is to be used to “teach” but I want to use it as a way for kids to learn. My students will be the ones creating the playlists. They will need to chose websites which explain research topics or projects clearly: including website which they evaluated before including in their playlists, annotated pictures, videos and an explanation of their process. Curating, creating and learning by making a playlist! Cool beans! I feel bad for the poster board companies.

PS- My son was watching me write this and I asked him what he thought about what we did today.

Start from Timmy, don’t call me Timothy – “It seems like a really fun place, like how they write on the windows and like if you were in New York you could draw King Kong hanging off the Empire State Building in that was in the view. It was a fun, creative place with an idea to be found everywhere you go. Did you know that all types of technology that use the same thing and then the flow chart about our school day, that was really cool.”

In books I read in which authors tell the backstory of where they wrote the book or how they got inspiration, many discuss how they drove to a cabin outside of the distractions of everyday life and created masterpieces or at least trashy beach novels that sold millions…

So here I sit up in Door County, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, with my computer, it’s Thursday and this is the first day I have been compelled to write. Most likely why I am not Tom Clancy. But I am reading. Books with pages, I just can’t fathom bringing my iPad to the beach. Books with pages are working just fine and I can shake the sand out of them when I get back to the cottage. And my kids are reading, reading so much

Imagethat we have made 2 runs to the bookstore in town and 1 to Walmart. Admittedly my children are not huge fans of reading but they read enough. So when they are completing books and asking for me, I don’t mind the “I need a new book Mom!” runs into town.

This got me thinking about all the students I have taught and I am about to start working with in the Fall – I wonder where they are reading all their books at?  Then it got me thinking a bit more – true that is a lot of thinking for anyone on vacation but it was happening! I started to wonder about putting summer reading into a visualization.

I would love to use Classroom Window but I am waiting for it to come out of beta – booo…But maybe using Wordle to gauge what the most popular generes were this summer. Maybe use ThingLink or Snagit and a map of the US to make an interactive image… ooo even better use Google Maps! I think that is what I might be doing. Using Google Maps and book titles and pictures and… yeah that is the ticket! Here is an easy peasy how to on inserting images into Google Maps. Here is one a weee bit more complicated with the actual Google Earth – but for me I think Google Maps will work just fine!

I love new staff members, I love when they join a staff I have been a part of for a while and in the same regard I love being the new staff member. Possibilities aplenty, what new skills will they come armed with to help us building our Tarkington community. We already have one of the most talented staffs I have experienced: skilled scientists who design incredible experiments, bilingual speakers who teach skills and a second language, literature gurus, and math maniacs.

Two fine arts teachers joined our staff this year, one is planning a full blown production of Frog and Toad and the other finds beauty in everything. In fact, one day I had to ask if she ever considered anything ugly. Our new art teacher, Ms. Hoff has been updating a lovely website, I just had to share. Enjoy the beauty!

ISAT Prep…. Please?

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Apps., New Idears.

Forewarning, this is one of the posts I had a brainstorm to write about in the middle of the night, started it and then, well lets say I have quite a few “drafts”….
But a few months later I am back at it!

As the 3rd grade iPad classrooms continue to explore and explode their classrooms with these personal devices, one of the most surprising incidents came during ISAT test prep. I haven’t met a teacher who enjoys test prep or a student for that matter, this brings us to a benchmark year in 3rd grade. As I sat in the back of the room observing so that I could give some support to the teacher, our story begins to unfold….

As the teacher begin to pass out papers with an example of an extended response which scored a 4, I sat in the back of the room and cringed! Cringed but jotted down a little note about a new direction we could take for the same task. Then after school we worked and uploaded another example in the form of a PDF up to her website. Again returning to the thinking of  letting go of old ways…which is difficult! This way students could access it whenever they needed and.. and.. and they could annotate on it! Make notes, comments, ask questions. The annotating worked so wonderfully that students weren’t ready to give it up! They began to take pictures of their own work and color code their papers then self-assess. What can it be true…why yes yes it was they were checking their own work! (I can almost hear the angels sing). We gave kids the power and they took charge of their own learning.

I am not even mentioning they were begging for ISAT practice when the teacher used the Socrative app with them! It had them begging from all corners of the room “Can we practice for ISAT again?”