Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: August 2010

Tweeting Your Life?

Think for a moment about what the cumulative effects of a highly open, networked life might be. Facebook lives are lived under the constant scrutiny of others. We even internalise this, by thinking about how we might tweet an experience even as it is happening. Just as the desire to capture holiday moments on camera can stop you looking properly at what is in front of you, so the desire to share online could stop you seeing things simply from your own perspective.

The quote is from an interesting opinion column by Julian Baggini in the Belfast Telegraph. I had been thinking about this since listening to Sherry Turkle talk a bit about her upcoming book while I was at the Scratch conference. Professor Turkle had worded it a bit differently. She asked if we tweet what we live, or if we plan our lives just so we’ll have something interesting to tweet.

We worry about what we, our students, and our colleagues post online, but we usualy worry about reputations, identity theft, and cyberbullying. Maybe, as part of our efforts to impart new media literacy to students and educators, we should make people aware of the differences in perspective when we don’t share what we live, but instead we live to share.

Just One More

At our faculty meeting at GHS this morning, Ms. Scott shared a great video with us. I think other teachers will benefit from watching it, too.

Beautiful!

I am so excited about this new tool I can share with students this year. Design Blocks is just amazing. Using blocks similar to those in Scratch, this web-based tool lets you create beautiful designs with just a tiny bit of code. Give it a try!

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From Scratch

I spent the last few days of my summer break in Boston attending the Scratch Conference at MIT. I have so much to share with teachers. This, added to what I saw and did earlier in the summer, has me very excited about this new school year. I just need to get all my thoughts organized so I can share with teachers and students.

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It was great getting to hear Mitch Resnick and his colleagues speak about Scratch, the culture that surrounds it, and the new developments we can all anticipate. Scratch is truly an amazing tool for 21st century learning. I have lots of new ideas of what to do with Scratch. And, I learned about a really cool new tool to help everyone get started with Scratch. Take a look at the cool stuff you can make using DesignBlocks.

But, not everything was about Scratch. We got to hear a panel discussion in which Sherri Turkle and Henry Jenkins shared thoughts about participatory culture and how technology has changed the way we behave, both privately and in public.

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I have to confess, when my travel companions were going on and on about how excited they were to hear Henry Jenkins, I was not sure who he was. I can remember numbers and images, but never names… A quick Google search took me to his blog (very cool, by the way) and got me just as excited. I started my summer teaching Scratch, then spent the middle part of my summer reading about games in education, and here I was at the Scratch conference listening to the man behind Ed Arcade, which had provided a lot of the information I’d read in Orlando at the Apple Institute. Pretty cool.

So, my summer has come full circle, from Scratch, to games, and back to Scratch AND games. Next, get all this into teachers’ heads and students’ hands. It is going to be a fun school year.

At NTA

Today I am spending the day with the new teachers, making them fall in love with their Macs and showing them around WordPress.

It is a great way to get back into school, working with these very motivated teachers.

What I Did This Summer

It has been a very busy summer. Although I’d like it to go on forever, I’m glad school’s about to start and I’ll have a chance to put to practice so much of what I learned.

When school first let out, John Hendron and I headed for South Boston, VA, to work with a group of incredibly creative teachers at the ITTIP. We spent a week teaching Alice and Scratch. The following week we did it all over again in Goochland. The teachers who attended will be using either Scratch or Alice in their classrooms to encourage creativity, and computational and logical thinking.

At the end of the week in Goochland, I flew to Denver to attend the annual ISTE Conference. I met lots of interesting people and leaned about some great ideas we can put to good use in Goochland. One that immediately comes to mind is using the book High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them by Jean-FrancoisRischard as a source for our G21 projects. Mr. Rischard was a keynote speaker at the conference, and he advocates letting students take a stab at ameliorating issues such as global warming and the depletion of biodiverse environments. Students, with a mind that is less biased than that of most adults, can generate many more ideas. Working on real issues facing our planet connects learning to the real world. That connection is at the heart of our G21 program.

I returned from Denver to teach a few classes in Goochland. My favorite classes were the two iMovie sessions, in which I worked with teachers to help them develop age-appropriate video production projects for their classrooms. In the elementary group, we focused on how to help emerging readers take advantage of the visual nature of the application. I also enjoyed the Mac Basics class in which I shared many of my favorite tricks to get the most out of your laptop. As we joked in class, we can harvest minutes from menial, repetitive tasks to dedicate to more rewarding endeavors.

A few days after that I went to my most-anticipated event of the summer. I attended the Apple Distinguished Educator Summer Institute at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL, and I got to hang out with about 150 people who are just as obsessed with their iPhone apps as I am. We had some amazing speakers, including the award-winning Full Sail student and documentary producer Sabrina Cooper, extreme runner Ray Zahab, photographer Joseph Linaschke, and Ocoee Middle School principal Sharyn Gabriel. I’ll be writing more about these and others, and how they provide great inspiration for connecting our school activities to our communities, encouraging creativity, and making our students’ voices heard.

At the ADESI I also worked with three very creative guys and we came up with our own project. We researched the use of games and elements of play in the classroom. Some of our teachers know that I like playing games with students before I teach a lesson, and now I have the ammunition to prove it is a really good use of our time together (PDF from Ed Arcade). I hope to spend some time this year working with teachers to create a more playful environment in their classrooms to help students fit in and learn with less frustration and fear of failure.

This coming week, the last week of our summer break, I’ll be splitting my time between Goochland and Boston. On Monday and Tuesday I’ll meet our new teachers and lead a couple of technology orientation sessions in our New Teacher Academy. Then I’ll be attending the Scratch Conference at MIT with John Hendron. I can’t wait to meet Mitch Resnick of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group. I hope to come back full of ideas to pitch to teachers about using Scratch in the classroom, or as the website states, ways in which to spread the “joys of Scratch.”

I hope your summer was as fun as mine. Come back to read more detailed posts about all of the above in the next few weeks and let me know if you would like to try any of these new ideas in your classroom. I’d love to help.

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