Monday, October 29, 2007


I'm simply horsing around with different photo sharing tools for my is one that is pretty neat!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

When Night Falls

I had a great time this past Friday night and Saturday morning participating in the When Night Falls K12 Online Conference culminating event. The discussions were lively and I learned a great deal from dialoguing with other educators from literally, across the planet (I spoke with people from Australia, China, Bangkok, England and of course the US). We spent a good deal of time processing the event, sharing specifics about what presentations we enjoyed, discussing some of the challenges to broadening the use of web 2.0, and considering ways to improve the conference for next year.

On Saturday morning we had a great discussion where we all shared our experiences regarding the first computers that we used and owned. Many participants shared photos of old apple computers, commodore computers, etc. The first computer that I ever used in school was a Commodore PET computer. This was one baaaddd computer, let me tell you. It was kind of cool because an educator in England used one of these when he was younger as well. This beast would get wheeled into our classroom for 1-2 weeks at a time, and a group of us would huddle around it playing a football game that was entirely text driven and scenario based. But it was such a blast! Below is a photo of the computer:

The next computer is a Texas Instruments TI-99 that my family purchased circa 1981. The unit had a killer 16K of RAM!! I did a little research on this and saw that it retailed for nearly $600, which is what it costs now for an entry level desktop computer-that's crazy! Of course the initial cost didn't include the cassette deck that we needed to purchase for data storage!

I enjoyed this exchange greatly. I'm already looking forward to the 2008 K12 Online Conference!


Check out this cool tool...these can be emailed, embedded in blogs/wikis, etc...this sketchcast was created by a math teacher out west:

Friday, October 26, 2007

8th Grade Skype Conference

On Wednesday, November 7th, at 2:30 CST Laurie Barth and her 8th grade English students will be chatting with Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese via skype. Three other schools will be joining us and Alex Ragone, Tech Director at a school in NYC, will be streaming the voice chat out to a broader audience via his EdTech streaming media server. The URL for the stream will be posted shortly. Many thanks to Alex for facilitating the audio stream.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why Blog w/Students??

I've heard this question before and my answer has always been long and drawn out. Today I watched Brian Crosby's presentation for the K12 online conference. He makes a good point, in saying that we've been talking for decades about creating authentic audiences for students when they write. Blogging provides a highly authentic and potentially global audience. To me, this reason alone provides a compelling reason to have students blog.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

K12 Online Conference-Sustainable Blogging

I just finished viewing Scott Hossack's presentation on sustainable blogging. It really was full of some excellent ideas on how to start and maintain student blogging in the classroom. He makes a very good point that adding blogging to what you already do in the classroom is not a recipe for success. We need to do something different in order to incorporate blogging with students, otherwise it will fall by the wayside. Scott mentioned that blogs should not be looked at as journals-they should be looked at as an opportunity for students to read, connect, communicate, reflect and comment on the blogs of others.

He had great practical ideas as well. Students should start out with blogging by simply reading the blogs of other students. A teacher can use netvibes or iGoogle to gather some blogs for students to start with and then share these blogs for them to access.

I think the realm of student blogging is an exciting one and hopefully we'll be able to delve into this on a much broader and deeper level at University School.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What does collaborative learning look like??

It probably looks like many different things. Here is how it looks today with my 5th grade students as they collaborate on a podcast script that they are writing for their "USM Virtual Tour" projects.

I like having students work in teams on projects involving you will see them clustered around a mac, sharing and teaming up on their script in google docs. It gets pretty loud in the room, but that is what happens in an environment where all of the kids are teaming up in small little clusters.

Below is an audio clip of what collaborative learning sounded like with this class is a pretty long clip, but I find it to be a great exchange of dialogue between the three girls who were working on a collaborative writing piece:

powered by ODEO

Solar Power Conference

I was fortunate enough to attend the 2007 Solar Power Conference in Long Beach, CA on a Wisconsin Electric Teacher Grant. It was a great experience and I thank WE Energies for this opportunity!

I created a blog on my experience at:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Take a look at this awesome resource that is being created by a group of educators. This was started to serve as a place for people to connect and discuss issues centering around teaching and learning in the 21st Century. I participated in a virtual meeting last night and can say that there are some really sharp people involved in this project with some excellent ideas.

The website address is:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LMAIS Meeting Summary

On Thursday, October 11th, 2007 we hosted the Fall meeting of the LMAIS Tech Coordinator group. We probably had close to 25 people from 20 different schools represented at the meeting.

A couple of things that I'm taking away from this:

1. Vinnie Vrotny's demonstration of back channeling via twitter and google docs presentations really got me thinking about classroom instruction, the role of the teacher, the role of the student, physical room layout, etc. Since our meeting I've created a twitter account and a voicethread account. Both are really interesting applications. Vinnie's use of back channeling via google docs powerpoint was neat as well-this is definitely something we can apply in future collaborative projects with our students.

2. Web 2.0 thoughts-we had a nice discussion on this...everything from barriers to implementation, how to promote the use of these tools with teachers/students, to success stories (Chris Butera's success story with google docs at his school was a good one). I do think that web 2.0 lends itself quite well to learning environments that support constructivism, student inquiry, and student uncovering of knowledge. To me it works well in physical spaces that promote group work and good connectivity for students. The traditional schedule of several periods a day meeting for a short amount of time makes it difficult to use this stuff on a wider scale with students (IMHO)...

3. Classroom of the future-again, another good discussion on this point. I like the points brought up by Gary Stager in his blog that suggest schools learn a lesson about design from Starbucks and Borders, which are two places that young people like to hang out at! Classrooms should be warm, comfortable, promote interaction and collaboration, support easy connectivity; basically, they should be workspaces that support constructivist teaching and learning!

4. We went out to dinner with Curt Leinick from the Lab School on Wednesday night...this proved to be great dialogue and an experience we can hopefully have at future LMAIS meetings (Peter from Latin school mentioned they would be willing to host a dinner the night before the spring meeting).

All-in-all, it was another positive and beneficial meeting with a nice exchange of ideas and stories. I am already looking forward to our spring meeting down at Latin School in Chicago!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Voice Thread #2

This voicethread thing could get addicting! I took the photos from my post from several days ago titled, "Technology use around school," and created this short little voicethread.

This is so, so cool!!!

Voice Thread

I just started experimenting with early impressions are quite positive. This is so, so easy to use. I can imagine this really simplifying student created multi-media projects.

Below is a sample voice thread that I created:

PSA-Think Before You Post!

A former co-worker of mine emailed the following youtube video along to me...I've seen this before-definitely an important message for everyone:

Response to an ISED Post

A participant in the ISED listserv posted a question about how to move her elementary school computer lab away from the "drag and drop" model that does little to encourage teacher involvement and ownership in lab instruction activities.

Below is a response to her inquiry that I posted:


One thing I would suggest right away is to dump the schedule you describe below and implement an "open" lab schedule. This open schedule will be uncomfortable for your teachers at first, but it is extremely important if you are to move your school in a direction that involves more project based activities in the lab. Encourage teachers to sign up for 4-5 days in a row for 60-90 minutes at a crack...then work with them to develop activities that are more project based and meet your organization's goals of teaching information literacy skills within the context of the project. Because the teachers are so accustomed to the traditional schedule, some will most likely try to sign up on the open lab schedule so it reflects what their used to (for example, they might sign up every Tuesday from 1:30-2:00)...encourage them to sign up for consecutive days in a row as described above. This model might mean that they only come in the lab once a month for 4-6 consecutive days, but this scenario IMHO is much better for fostering integration and higher level computer lab projects.

Also, I would examine the type of software that the students have been using under the traditional model...if it is the type of software where students put headphones on and participate in skill/drill activities that isolate them from one another, I would suggest making a change and working more towards developmentally appropriate productivity software that encourages teamwork/collaboration and dialogue amongst students.

Good luck with whatever change you decide will definitely not be popular out of the gate and it will take a few years to implement and be accepted, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. I've been through this change two times...we changed the schedule and the lab's software suite--it wasn't a popular change, but it was definitely one that needed to happen if we were to move to a more effective paradigm where the classroom teachers took more ownership for computer lab activities.

Matt Montagne
Middle School Academic Technology Coordinator
University School of Milwaukee"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Technology use around school

I was walking down the hallway a few weeks ago and noticed that many teachers were doing some pretty nifty things with technology at that exact I quickly grabbed a camera to document these happenings. Here are a few photos with descriptions from that day...

Below is a team of 7th Grade students in Kip Jacobs science class...they're working with capturing images from their microscopes for use in their lab reports...

Here is a photo of Chuck Taft, our 8th grade US History Teacher, doing a test review with the Smart Senteo classroom responders. He used the response devices to poll the students on their understanding of the key components of their test...

This is a photo in the computer lab with the 6th grade students in Dolores Kendall's composition class. They are using Google Docs, which is an online word processing program, to type one of their first writing assignments of the semester.

This final photo shows some students in Brian Markwald's social studies class playing a simulation game that teaches basic economics concepts: