Podstock Pineywoods 2010

TCEA Area 7 and SUPERNet are going to be hosting Podstock Pineywoods with keynote speaker Kevin Honeycutt on October 29th in Tyler, TX. Get registered and find out the info here. You can also download the promo handout here.

Some more useful info:

What is Podstock Pineywoods?

Date: Friday, October 29, 2010
Where: Ornelas Center UT-Tyler, 3402 Old Omen Rd, Tyler, TX, (903) 565-4445‎
Time: Registration @ 8:30AM Conference is 9AM – 2:30PM
Limited to 125 participants

Cost: $50 members/non-members

It’s both a podcasting conference and a conversation.

It’s for educators who want to share technology integration strategies, explore iPod use, and strengthen established learning networks.

But we don’t want Podstock to be just about the latest gadget or the coolest software. We want it to be about creativity, inspiration, and what’s good for kids. We hope that our formal and informal conversations at this event will help change how we do school.

Registration includes lunch and snacks.

Little Copyright Thugs

Okay, so Alan Levine was kidding in his comment to the post introducing this video to me when he called them “little copyright thugs.” One has to kid about the topic after seeing the following video posted on Alec Couros’s blog. But let me say before you watch it, art and music are SOOOOOOO important for all of us to be able to express our emotions and life lessons in a format rather then keeping them pent up inside and not letting the world see how great a person each of us can be on the inside. We all have our favorite picture or song or poem that means the world to us for personal reasons. I think this teacher and many of the kids just found one of their own. 

With that being said, here are the “little copyright thugs.”

Can you see the engagement in the song that the kids had? It was not “hey we’re making a movie” or “watch me be the star of this thing.” It was a genuine expression of engagement brought out by an educator that we all hope to see in our classrooms (albeit, I never had poetry written or recited in my class with such passion as these kids shared). Oh, and the kicker is that these kids have been invited by Stevie Nicks after she saw this video on YouTube to sing it in Madison Square Gardens. Feel free to drop by the kids’ blog and let them know how great they really are: http://www.ps22chorus.blogspot.com/ Not bad for a campus where 3 out of 4 are on free/reduced lunch, huh?

Quick point here. Notice they blog. Notice that we now notice how great these kids AND their teacher both are. Enough noticing. Read on.

Now, let’s consider what Alec was getting at. This explicitily shows why we should be publishing our kids’ work. They are going to experience things because of this short 2 minute video that most of us only dream about. Why? Their teacher thought enough to show off what they can do to the world. Sure, it might all be a fluke that Stevie Nicks saw the video and invited them, but the fluke was not possible without that teacher making that concious choice to publish the work. Also, think of the lives this can touch with those kids. Already fighting their way out of a hole poverty-wise, they can now see they have value, skills, hope, and a teacher that obviously loves them very, very much. Did you catch his commentary at the end? It was three words: “That was goooooood.” I have not seen a bigger smile on any face than he had on his at that moment. Even Darren Kuropatwa zoomed in on that part of it. It just says so much.

So, let’s review here. The kids practice a Fleetwood Mac song. The teacher decides to record them singing it. The outcomes:
1. We are inspired by what these kids can do with a passion.
2. The parents obviously know their kid’s teacher loves his job and his students a TON.
3. Stevie Nicks sees the video via a social networking video site, cries, falls in love with the kids, and invites them to perform at Madison Square Gardens.
4. Ed tech guys and gals jump on the story as a way to motivate their own teachers to do such things as publishing more (any) student content.
5. The students see a new value in school and learning and that there is light at the end.
6. Teacher gets a book and movie deal and becomes Mr. Holland’s Opus II: The Modern Version (I made that up, but it could happen).

I hope Alec finds a way to weave this post and video into his time with us in White Oak on June 12th. Did I mention he is one of the keynoters and a featured presenter? Feel free to join us.

In the meantime, fire up your class blog and get your students’ work out there. The world needs to see just how good they (and you) really are.

My Day in Region 8

I was fortunate enough this past week to be asked to speak at the Education Service Center in Region 8 in Mount Pleasant, TX. I had a great time with a very receptive audience. One of the attendees was even in my university program during my bachelors. It was great to see her again.

My goal with this day was to show them how White Oak ISD uses our web presence to make our classrooms and district transparent in many ways and allow our community to become a part of the school day. We use blogs from our WordPress MU server, a redesigned Joomla site, our Apple podcast server, and other web based tools like Delicious to let everyone see just what we are trying to accomplish in our students’ education.

There were a few things that struck me during the day:

  • I had several in attendance who told me during breaks that they had not heard of any of the tools I mentioned. While as a presenter that is good for me, it bothers me a bit as an educator. These have been around for awhile, so I thought I might be extending the knowledge on a few of these tools, not introducing them, per se.
  • I was struck at the statement made metaphorically by starting with the two videos that I did. While I did not intend it that way, it came across that way to the attendees. The Introduction of the Book showed early issues with lack of knowledge of its use. The latter video of Chris Lehmann’s students discussing, toungue in cheek, the lack of functionality of the book does much the same in a 21st Century context. It was cool to see they got that out of the videos.
  • Schools spend a lot of money on commercial tools when many times the opensource versions can provide more even if you have to find paid support. I will be helping one district start to rebuild their wbesite away from a paid, very limited service to Joomla. (Disclosure: I am not getting paid to help them. It is just nice to help when they have a staff member so willing to jump in on his own as well. I will be more of a guide.)
  • ESC 8 ROCKS! They either filter a LOT less than other ESCs or they opened up the lab I was in knowing I would be using several resources normally blocked. While they did not block wordpress.com, they did block Edublogs. I bet they get that resolved, though. They are sure to have several school districts requesting it, anyway.

My takeaway from this is that we all still have a lot to share with each other. While I shared tools that some might have even heard of before, several heard new uses for them for their own schools.

You will find below the Google Presentation version of what I presented to them. There are a few videos embedded for a point as well as just for fun. We did some hands-on work at different times, so the presentation might seem abrupt at times. If the embed below acts up, you can find the presentation here: http://docs.google.com/Presentation?id=dcr4kb53_1273jnqdrc4

Feel free to leave your comments as well as questions below. I am more than happy to reply.

7 Year Olds as Digital Storytellers

Photo Credit: scragz

My wife and I are very fortunate to have such a wonderful second grade teacher for our son this year. She, Mrs. Richeson,  finds great ways to bring the parents into the classroom via technology. We have had the chance to watch our son retell stories through readers theater video podcasts. Now, she stretches their writing abilities and has them share them with everyone in audio podcasts.

During our parent conference the other day, my wife (a 6th grade language arts teacher) commented how she was not sure how Mrs. Richeson was able to do all of the things she does getting the recordings made and posted. She just smiled and said it was no big deal with the MacBook. As the instructional technologist for the district, it was a good confirmation for me that we are headed in the right direction with the right tools. I taught first grade myself. Everything extra is a big deal. To hear her share how easy she found it was affirming. 

First, a little background to my son’s story. La Cucaracha is “cockroach” in Spanish.  He has loved that Spanish word ever since he heard Phillips, Craig, and Dean in concert in Tyler.  They had a children’s CD that he wanted. Needless to say, the song about the bug is his favorite.  So, according to his teacher, Christian took a long time to write his story. She wondered what was slowing him up, but she also was glad that he was writing. A lot. It wasn’t until the end of the story being recorded that it all made sense. He was writing a story around a song with the internal goal of getting the song into the story as the closing and it make sense.  Pretty high level, if I do say so myself.  Yes, I’m proud of him.  So have a listen to his creation. Make sure you hang in there long enough to hear him sing in the end. About a roach. 🙂 

Listen to the podcast of the story “The Rock Boy” by Christian.

Podcasting in Moodle

Most of the school districts in our SUPERNet Consortium use Moodle in-house in addition to the virtual high school Moodle. I try to dabble in Moodle regularly just to keep up with it and see what I can learn as I go along to share with others. As part of this self-directed learning, I follow a blog called The Moodleman Blog. Moodleman, Julian Ridden, does a fine job of sharing his experiences with Moodle and the boys school in Sydney where he works.

Recently, Moodleman shared a post about how he integrates podcasts into the Moodle-based curriculum. Have a go at it (in honor of my UK buds) and just maybe your students will love the newfound media options a tad more engaging.

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Check out the rest of Julian’s great Moodle videos on Edublogs.tv.

Snowing in east Texas – Video Podcast

It snowed a lot in east Texas today. Never happens. So our 5th grade science teacher took the initiative and taught the water cycle outside in the snow. The kids loved it. We knew the snow would not last all day, so he did a video podcast about it. Check it out here.

This is his first adventure into podcasting, so let him know what you think in the comment section here. We have big plans to do more science podcasts along the river in Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma in the near future. Stay tuned.

Take Away the Hammer…

hammersWe were out camping one weekend when my son was four years old. The weather was rather nice on that trip so we took the tent. As any four year old would do, he found the hammer rather fun. To avoid having the hammer create more damage than I could fix, I traded him the hammer for my digital voice recorder (does not sound like an even swap, huh?). I shared with him the record and stop buttons and turned him loose for the next hour. He was pacing all over that campsite during that hour, but I was able to get the tent and other supplies set-up.

Later that evening, I plugged the recorder into my laptop to delete his recordings of the car radio and other unique noises he discovered. But through this process I came across his first literacy creation: the story.

It seems as though he became very engaged with the ability to record and hear himself. Following the model he has known since birth, he wanted to hear a story. My wife and I have read a book to him every night since birth (my wife started even before that). Since we were busy setting up camp, he created his own story, and I found it on the recorder. To me, it is a priceless piece of his academic and creative growth that I am extremely pleased to have archived. When I shared it with my wife, she was just as proud as I was, but neither of us were as proud as he. With our discussion of what was so great about it and how it sounded “really professional” and like a “real author,” he accepted my offer to add sounds to it so it sounded like the story CD’s he listened to.

I loaded the file into Garageband and sat him next to me. As the story played, he told me when to stop and what sounds to put where. He asked for scary music since it was a pirate story, after all. Then he requested waves and parrots (he got a rooster instead) and more.

As we wrapped it up for the evening, we reviewed the product. I tell you, sitting around the campfire with his story playing audibly reminded my wife and me of the scary stories we sat around telling when we were kids. But we never did it like this, and we were not four years old.

So listen and enjoy my son’s first digital story. And remember that a four year old did this. Don’t say your students or children are not capable of being creative. Sometimes you just need to take away the hammer and give them a more productive tool.

Download The Pirate Story by Christian Floyd

Kenya Escape Through Digital Storytelling

Ellen Petry Leanse has a powerful story to tell of her escape from the political unrest in Kenya during the presidential elections over the 2007 Christmas holidays. She and her 12 year old son were there volunteering in an orphanage as well as other humanitarian work.

I first encountered her story January 15th on Guy Kawasaki’s blog as a guest post. Her writing moved me. Something inside of me kept saying to contact her and help her share what she and her son went through. As Google would have it, her email came up in the first try, and by 8:11 AM I sent off a personal plea to her to share her narrative through digital storytelling.

By 9:34 Ellen had taken me up on the offer and we were off on a plan. Since she lives in CA and I live in TX, logistics said the use of Web 2.0 tools were in need. With very little instruction, Ellen had read her blog post over the phone into my GCast account (I gave her my PIN to access it). The recording quality was awesome! My next step was to gather pictures of her events. By 9:57 she emailed me a picture to get my mind rolling with ideas. A trip to her Facebook photo album allowed me to harvest a number of great shots. I visited Flickr, did a Creative Commons search, and borrowed a few very well taken photos from others witnessing the events in Kenya. I was well on my way to helping Ellen and her son. Or so I thought.

Honestly, as I moved through the process, the story began to touch me even more. Then it hit me. Now, it was helping me. I needed to tell her story to others soon, and I had plans to present a professional development session to a private, Christian school. Their curriculum is driven by the Classical Education model(I can hear them shriek from here as I link that to Wikipedia ;). For those not familiar with the model, it is founded on a trivium consisting of the school of grammar (K-5), logic (6-8), and rhetoric (9-12). Students at this school must complete a rigorous course load that includes fine arts, several languages (Spanish, Latin, with Greek as a high school option), and a senior thesis. The thesis is based on a 20-30 minute presentation (after a year of research on a self-selected topic) in front of a panel of professionals and then defend it for a like amount of time from the panel’s questions. And this is high school. Wow! Now consider that they start defending and debating their work in middle school and you have some real world preparation going on there.

Since this was a curricular program unlike many that I had been involved with personally (although I had studied in my graduate work), I knew I needed some professional opinions. Enter Jen Wagner and Vicki Davis. These two ladies gave me advice about the Classical private school setting via email, previous blog posts, and even Twitter. Both offered even more assistance, but they had done such a wonderful job with the digital archives of their blogs sharing their work, I didn’t need to bother them any more. The common thread was found, and I knew what I needed to do. Not focus on technology. Huh?

I decided I was going to use digital storytelling to help drive home the importance of these tools for students to use on their own. My focus was the six senses Daniel Pink shares in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. Those senses really drive home the importance of preparing our youth for a continually changing economy.

Classical Education’s focus on logic and rhetoric in the secondary classes are a perfect fit for what Pink has in mind. I zeroed in on Story because it can drive emotion in a person. How you tell a story is so important to how it is perceived/received. The strength of logic and rhetoric from the presenter’s side of the table relies heavily on one’s ability to gain audience buy-in. Story can do that. Story can make or break a case in front of a panel (or classroom). This is what these students are looking for to give them an edge in the world outside of K-12 schooling. As we have read with the articles on over-achievers and their battles to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack for college admissions, Story can be more important than ever.

Here is what I shared with the teachers after presenting Vision of Students Today (both the K-12 and Wesch’s versions), Pink’s views, and renderings of revised Bloom’s:Blog post from Guy’s blog
How to Change the World- Guest Post- “We Got Out of Kenya, But What About the People Who Live There?”_1200867570845This post had an emotional appeal to it for me, but not everyone is as visual mentally when they read as I am. So there had to be another step.

GCast GCast Podcast (Click on MP3 link to hear audio recording.)Add to my PageEllen did a wonderful job of reading her ten minute post over the phone. Not only did this add to the impact of the story, it allowed me to have an audio archive in her voice to build on to the story’s presentation. And…GCast is FREE.

Download Video: Posted by woscholar at TeacherTube.com.
This piece is perfect for those wanting a short, visually driven narrative. It delivers the story (without the personal narrative). Animoto offers a VERY easy method to create 30 second videos for FREE and with NO hassle. I find this to be a powerful way to begin a writing session. Use it for the prompt. See what develops.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=45226″ width=”400″ height=”400″ wmode=”transparent” /]
Voicethread gave me the chance to use the entire audio clip with 25 pictures. As many of you know, the audio commenting feature of Voicethread will be a great way to extend the conversation for Ellen and her son with others interested in what they lived through. I have comment moderation on temporarily until I am sure Ellen is ready for the conversation to take place. After all, it is her story to tell.

My last piece needed to be high impact. While sorting through the pictures in my office, I dreaded the time it was going to take to choose music for the background. A story this emotional had to have something special. I had my iPod playing in my Altec docking station, randomly choosing the order of songs for me. Since I was concentrating on the photos and the story they were telling me, I was just subconsciously listening to the music. That is, until Brandon Heath’s “The Light” came on. I started humming while I was working. Then the lyrics started coming out (good thing everyone else had gone home for the day). I got to the chorus, and it hit me: “Stay close you people with your broken hearts….as we move toward the light” That was it. Perfect. The good Lord blessed me once again. I fired off an email to Brandon (music minister in The Woodlands, TX) to ensure permission to borrow his song for this cause with the understanding that if he did not like the final product I would pull his music out of it immediately.

Next thing, download Ellen’s audio narrative, edit out parts that fit the pictures and music and yet keep the strong storyline intact. After a bit of time in GarageBand editing the audio and iMovie piecing the video together, I was ready. One week, almost to the minute, after reading Ellen’s post, I found myself presenting her moving story to a K-12 school needing to hear what she has to say and willing to learn about the tools it takes to tell the world.

Download Video: Posted by woscholar at TeacherTube.com.
Thank you, Ellen, for your wonderful heart and willing spirit. Your words are now a part of the many that hear them from this blog and beyond. I pray your works in Kenya expand the lives of the families you touched there.Thank you, teachers of CHS, for your open minds and hearts. I know you have the best things planned for your students. Your enthusiasm is unmatched by any group I have worked with. I thank you for inspiring me to keep up the faith. We can improve what our students face in the classroom. I will be your willing guide any opportunity you will let me.

Photo Credits from Presentations:
Ellen Petry Leanse
Music in iMovie:
The Light by Brandon HeathTechnorati Tags: , ,

60 Second Science

P8012712Secondary Science Teachers,

Looking for a great primer to warm up the science class?  Needing some quick supplementary media to add to your curriculum?  Or do you just want to know what is happening in the science world?  It is a struggle to keep kids excited about science when their main concern is passing the TAKS test instead of truly understanding the concept for something more than a multiple choice answer.  They must be engaged.

Well, 60 Second Science has just the ticket.  It is a part of Scientific American‘s web presence.  You will find topics in categories such as animal and pet, archaeology, biology, computers, Earth science, environment, energy, climate, health, math, physics, and more.  You can visit their blog and read the short posts (which link to more in-depth content for further study), view videos, or even subscribe to their podcast via iTunes.

Some of their recent posts include:

I would say some of this content can be used with elementary grade classes with the right modifications.  Some of the content just might be a bit over their heads.

Thanks to Tim over at Top 101 Web Sites for Teachers for the heads-up.  Keep up the great work, Tim!

Photo Credit: Me; my son “operating” on a frog in a dissection kit made with some type of Jello substance.

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Podcasting in the Classroom

Tim Wilson, a technology integration specialist from Minnesota, hosted a session at NECC last year (NECC will be in San Antonio June 2008). The audience put together a list of classroom uses for podcasting. Tim blogged about it and offers this list:

Collect field notes during a science field trip
Living museum, researching characters
“Radio shows”
Creating audio guides for local museums
Teacher powerpoints
Early language learners, (rhyming, etc.)
Staff development
Language learners recording assessments
Discovery Education videos
Science reports
Art projects
Digital portfolios
Weekly classroom news
Serial storytelling
Reflective journals
Summaries of school events
Broadcast school sporting events
Roving reporters
Capturing oral histories (family history)
Podcast vocab words and spelling lists
Flashcard practice with iFlash
Musical compositions
Soundseeing tours

Since podcasting is new to many in our school district, I thought I would offer this list up and see if anyone was interested in trying it out.  If you are, give me a call.  We have the equipment available for our staff to try these things out.

Any other ways to use podcasting that you can think of?

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