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Student Led Conferences- Web 2.0 Style! December 22, 2007

Posted by Joselyn Todd in Educational Technology, Podcasts.
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Today and tomorrow I am helping to facilitate a gigantic ed tech project with all 100 7th grade students at the school that I teach at- Cary Academy, Cary, NC. Several years ago a colleague and dear friend (and excellent videographer and writer) of mine and I came up with the idea of “independent technology projects” for our 7th graders. Finally, the project is coming to fruition as we are having our students spend two mornings (approximately 6 hours of instructional time) creating independent technology projects for their student led parent conferences in January.

Our team of teachers consists of 9 advisors/teachers that are working with the 100 students. Actually most of us are simply providing advice, and the kids are working extremely independently. Our teachers have fairly good technology skills, albeit like many teachers, their skills range across the tech savvy spectrum. No problem, the kids help each other and are eager to show teachers some of the skills they are employing in their projects. We settled on having the students create their projects in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 which allows much better multimedia integration than the former version. At first I was resistant to using this software to create the projects, but I am feeling better about it as our students are really creating multimedia projects through the use of the platform.

So this morning I am watching my students work on their computers (we are a 1:1 school), and they are creating a storyboard in PowerPoint and then integrating pictures, podcasts (audio), and video into it. They have been gathering content in the later part of the morning- photos of their friends, photos of tests and projects they have completed, screenshots of their digital academic work, “It’s an Elementary Mystery Podcasts” (Science), “Poems Aloud” (English, self written poems that they have recorded in Audacity and then embedded into a self-created webpage), Foreign Language (French Poems recorded in Audacity), journals re: Math problems (math), self recorded music from strings class, Medievals Travelers Videos (History), etc. Some are writing of their struggles. Some are writing of their growth. Some are not writing much at all- they are letting they multimedia speak for itself.

I can not wait to see their final products tomorrow, and I will publish one of them as an example eventually. The power of 1:1 computing is truly coming to life in this project. The students own their content…it is theirs and they created all of it on their PCs. They are free to be creative within the loose constraints of the guidelines for the project. In the end, they will present their independent technology project to their parents to facilitate their conferences.

As I reflect on the NETS published by ISTE, I feel confident we are on the right track with these Web 2.0 Independent Technology Projects for Student-Led Middle School Conferences because they exude…

  • creativity and innovation;
  • communication and collaboration;
  • research and information fluency;
  • critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making;
  • digital citizenship; and
  • technology operations and concepts*

What do you think of this strategy to allow students to really own their educational experience when meeting with their parents for student led conferences? Ideas? Thoughts?


Design of a Web 2.0 Class for Teens…. June 26, 2007

Posted by Joselyn Todd in Educational Technology, Podcasts.
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I am teaching a week long course in Web 2.0 to 12-15 year old girls/boys. This is the third year that I have taught teen camps in the summer as I have taught summer tech courses to teachers for 7 years prior to this.

I have 35 hours to teach these students (all of which that I have never known before) Web 2.0 (or at least as much as I can get out to them). For the design of the class I am using a Wiki. I am doing this so that the students will be able to use the resources and access their work once they finish the class from home or school. I have also decided to design the course using all open source and free online Web 2.0 services. Why? Because these teens do not have the money to buy Microsoft Office 2007. Moreover, they do not have Adobe Photoshop and many other expensive software titles available at home- way too expensive. They surely do not have these resources at their schools- albeit, maybe MS Office 2003. We are using Dell Inspiron laptops that are 4 years old. We are running Win XP Pro on them. The laptops do not have wireless cards so we are using the school’s LAN. We have no filtering software on the network.

What would you teach if you had this eager group of kids for a week? Having taught adults and teens technology, I know that teens learn quicker than adults (no offense intended); but really, what are the most valuable Web 2.0 concepts and skills to teach in a meager 35 hours?

I have decided on wikis, blogging, podcasting, and digital storytelling (converted to a vodcast). The wiki will be the hub and all other aspects will be linked to it such as the blogs, podcasts, and video from the digital stories. We will also touch upon the up and coming 3-D web. We will explore development of 3-D animated avatars and teen Second Life.

I asked the campers to decide on subject that they were passionate about. I told them it should be a hobby or simply something they really enjoyed- nothing academic. Today I had 13 year old girls creating an exciting podcast about endangered wolves and a 11 year old boy collaborating with a 14 year old boy regarding a podcast about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. The others are just as interesting.

My take home message from our second full day- let a child be creative with something that they are passionate about and judge not… Whether it be the Red Sox rivalry or the endangered grey wolf, kids are amazing when given the tools to explore and pursue their passions.

Oh, we used Wikispaces for the wiki platform. We used Meez to create our avatars. We used Audacity and podfree music resources for the podcasts. And finally, we used Podbean to create our blogs.

My campers asked if they could work tonight on their podcasts. Several are interviewing family members this evening. Their parents PAID for this…. There is NO GRADE INVOLVED. Ownership of one’s creative venture- whether it is the students’ projects or the design of my class…it is our driving force.

Caroline McCullen Discusses MidLink’s History (Podcast 1) December 21, 2006

Posted by Joselyn Todd in Podcasts.
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MidLink ImageToday I have finally completed the first of what I hope to be are numerous podcasts for MidLink Magazine. I was fortunate to be able to catch up with Caroline McCullen of SAS in School, SAS, Cary, NC, the founder of MidLink. It was really interesting speaking with Caroline as she was able to provide a wonderful overview of the history of MidLink as well as some thoughts about her perceptions of best practices in ed tech. As the newest member of a talented group of editors for MidLink, it was enlightening to talk with Caroline and realize how much ed tech has really changed, yet not changed, since the early days of the Internet which are not so long ago (1994). I hope you enjoy the podcast and please check out MidLink Magazine as a resource for ideas for student based project work. A thank you to NCState University for their support to MidLink as well as the University of Central Florida. Enjoy… and feel free to comment and send your thoughts…

MidLink Podcast 1

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