All Posts (6)

Sort by

Teaching and Thinking (Session 1 Capstone 2)

I found this week's Capstone 2 readings on reflections very interesting. I am always telling my students that the most powerful thing I can teach them is HOW to think instead of what to think. While students undergo formative and summative assessments on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis, how often are students given the opportunity to simply reflect on the learning process? Not often in my experience. 

In my readings this week, I have learned that there are four modes of thinking as proposed by Grimmett in 1990 and reflective techniques for each mode. The four modes of thinking, technological, situational, deliberate, and dialectical, all require introspective and critical analytical skills in order to successfully reflect on needed and desired outcomes. Narrative reflections are expository writing that enable the writer to state what happen but in order to be truly effective reflective writing should involve both a dilemma and possible solutions ( a la the original Dewey model of reflection).

I would like to try to institute reflective thinking with my students using either the library’s wiki or a Google doc.  I thought at first to have each student reflect individually, but after reading Lana Danielson’s article, “Fostering Reflection” in Educational Leadership 66(5), in which she wrote “reflection is a skill best fostered with colleagues,”  I think that I would like to have the students work together on reflecting on their learning. I am thinking maybe it could be presented as a group interactive workbook since the students are familiar with interactive notebooks at my school. If each grade level was given its own collaborative document to use as a reflective tool after a particular library lesson, the students and I would both be able to determine the success of the lesson as well as collaborate in order to improve both the lesson and the instructional methods used.

In conclusion, I am hoping that with this new blog I will also be presenting a reflective journal of learning as I progress through my last step in the Capstone trail towards ISTE certification.

Read more…

Distinguished Lecture Series

Vicki Davis will present, “Successful Online Presentation Skills for Students” in the Blackboard Collaborate Distinguished Lecture Series this coming Tuesday September 20, 2011 at 19:00:00GMT [ check here for the time where you are ].


In late July 2011, Vicki attended the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum, held in Redmond, Washington, USA, where she served as a judge of the international competition.

Earlier in the month, author Vicki Davis was interviewed by the Voice of Russia about Flat Classroom® Projects at​/25/53695347.html Kim Brown, of VOR, describes a method of instruction called Flat Classroom® which is gaining traction around the country. Vicki Davis, a co-founder of Flat Classroom® Projects and co-author of the book Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time, which is due out in August.

She recently wrote an editorial in The Washington Post entitled, “The greatest teacher incentive: The freedom to teach.” The article generated 126 comments and is available at

Vicki Davis is a teacher and the IT director at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia. Vicki co-created five award winning international wiki-centric projects, the Flat Classroom®

Project, the NetGenEd™ Project, the Eracism Project™, ‘A Week in the Life’, and Digiteen™ with teacher Julie Lindsay, currently in Beijing.

These projects have linked more than 3200 students from both public and private schools in nineteen countries since 2006. These collaborative projects harness the most powerful technology tools available while operating on minimal budgets. Vicki has been featured in various media sources including Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, Don Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe.

She was on the Tuesday keynote panel presentation at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference 2011 entitled, Five Facing Forward: Forecasting Futures along with Steve Hargadon and Joyce Valenza. Vicki presented Differentiated Instruction and Assessment with Technology in a presentation following the keynote panel at the conference. She presented

Week in the Classroom: “Wiki Collaboration Across the Curriculum” at the K12Online Conference in 2010, an online conference session available at

Vicki has presented the keynote at The Google Teacher Academy in 2008 and at several of the annual conferences held by the International Society for Technology in Education.

Vicki blogs at the Cool Cat Teacher blog which won the 2008 Edublog Award for Best Teacher Blog, was second runner up for the Best Teacher Blog in 2009, and was nominated for the same award in 2010. She was named a pioneer in Open Source Virtual World Technology in October 2009. Vicki is a Google Certified Teacher and Discovery S.T.A.R. Educator. She lives in Camilla, Georgia with her husband and three children.

Full bio information.

The event page is at

Please arrive early for this informative lecture!

Read more…

Video Streaming

Denver Public Schools is currently rolling out Safari Montage as our video streaming solution.  We would love to share ideas and concerns with other using this or a similar product.


Read more…

Banned Websites Awareness Day

Cross-posted from the AASL blog

On Tuesday, August 9th, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) published a press release designating September 28th, 2011 as Banned Websites Awareness Day. Embedded in ALA’s long-standing censorship awareness campaign, Banned Books Week (September 24 - October 1), this new initiative formally directs national attention to a percolating conversation about the impact of Internet filtering on teaching and learning in K-12 education.

Art: Kalan Lysenko, NCHS Class of 2013
AASL is to be commended for taking the lead on this intellectual freedom issue. It is becoming increasingly evident that access to participatory media is essential to teaching the frameworks set forth by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, and more specifically for librarians, AASL’s Learning for Life (L4L) standards. Yet, these resources – those that create opportunities for students to contribute and publish online – are often blocked in schools.

Internet censorship is most often fueled by fear. Costly litigation, online predators, network security, privacy breeches are commonly cited as justification for aggressive filtering practices. While these concerns are legitimate, denying teachers and students a chance to experience online participatory learning together is professionally irresponsible. When schools, which presumably exist to prepare students for 21st century citizenship, fail to teach students how to learn and publish on the World Wide Web, they deny students fundamental instruction that is necessary for success in today’s world, and even more so in tomorrow’s.

Students are entitled to guidance and supervision by vetted, certified professionals when learning to navigate the participatory web. This is how they learn responsible use. School should be the training ground for online interaction, the place where digital citizenship instruction is embedded across disciplines – not the place where students are sequestered from the real world. In most cases, students have access to what is blocked in school once they leave the school building, and students in censored schools have to learn how to negotiate this unregulated landscape unsupervised and on their own. Educators have an obligation to correct that, even if it seems frightening to do so.

I teach in a free-range media school. We use a wide array of platforms for instruction, including an online course management system, a library management system, blogs, microblogs and social networks. Digital citizenship is part of our school culture. We trust teachers and students, and with trust comes responsibility. We refuse to penalize everyone for the potential transgressions of a handful of offenders.

In 2007, we incorporated Facebook into the academic program. Students had found a way around our proxy server to access it, and rather than trying to force students into compliance, we opened access. We kept waiting for the fallout, but it never happened. It is now a staple resource for student-student and teacher-student communication.

We use Facebook to teach communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity – not because we can’t do it elsewhere, but because students are already accustomed to contributing there, and it helps us get to our teaching objectives faster. Most of our students are adept at reading, writing, evaluating, providing feedback, expanding conversations, contributing knowledge and content on Facebook for social purposes. If our aim is to develop and apply those abilities toward learning and productivity, it saves students the cognitive process of transferring those skills to a restricted, less familiar platform. It helps them focus on improving the quality of their interactions rather than navigation. These are assessed proficiencies, and students learn from each other when they see interactions among all participating learners. While they could do this on any forum, they spend more time on this one, and are thus drawn back into the conversation more frequently. For better or worse, time, space, and clear divisions between work and play have become muddled in the 21st century. This experience teaches students to blend productivity and learning into their every day life, which sets them on the course toward becoming lifelong learners.

This is not about Facebook. What we taught on Facebook last year, we might teach on Google+ next year. The point is to deliver instruction as simply and conveniently as possible. If the instructional objective involves learning to navigate a wide range of interfaces, then by all means, take students out of the familiar realm. But if the objective is already an embedded part of student’s experience in a specific medium, and our goal is to build on that prior knowledge and apply it to a new purpose, then start in a familiar place – wherever that is. It is a simple instructional strategy to build engagement, and teachers have relied on it for years. The only difference is that many educational policy makers are not comfortable with what is familiar to students, and allowing students to use platforms educators don’t understand seems scary. Scary or not, we must empower students to collaborate with, learn from and produce for the public. It is an expectation of 21st century citizens, and they should be afforded the opportunity to have educators guide them in the process. In the current environment, many children are left to fend for themselves online without direction or supervision. It sets a great example when teachers learn in partnership with students, and that may be a sound solution to bridging the aptitude gap between teachers and students when it comes to participatory media. But it would be a societal blunder to allow students to learn without teachers.

So kudos to AASL for jump starting the conversation about Internet censorship and intellectual freedom! Ideally, this will prompt policy makers to refocus their filtering practices toward student learning rather than institutional protection.
Read more…

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos

Dark DudeDark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark Dude has such a great cast of characters. They all have their problems, but it is Gilberto and Rico, who takes Jimmy with him too that decide to leave their lives in Harlen and strike out for a better life in Wisconsin. Rico is a light Cuban American and this causes him so many problems; he is bullied becdue to his light skin, family tensions with his moms' constant hassles, a father who drinks too much and can't make enough money to support his family and a rundown, violent school. Gilberto is an older Latino friend who truly cares for Rico and makes Rico feel he can do anything. Jimmy has a horrible life but together Rico and Jimmy make comics and watch out for each other. Jimmy is the artist and Rico is the author and they have an idea for a story, "Dark Dude" or Latin Dagger. It is when Gilberto comes into money and decides to go out west and get an education and better life that changes life drastically for Rico. When he can't take his life anymore, he runs away with Jimmy and meets up with Gilberto in Wisconsin. It is this new life, which isn't always great, and his coming of age in Wisconsin (lots going on there), that really causes Rico to mature and changes the course of his life. Rico as a character is going through so much and he has compassion, morals,and integrity. He is smart, re-reads Huck Finn and loves the relationship between Huck and Big Jim. I really admired how Rico never shirked the many challenges that came his way. A great multicultural read of bonds and friendship, but one my reluctant readers won't be interested in because of the 439 pages.

View all my reviews
Read more…

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Something Like FateSomething Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The characters in this romance novel are all really finely drawn by Colasanti and I found Lani very believable as a teen who doesn't follow the crowd and realizes she has angered friends by distancing herself (they think Lani thinks she is too good for them) and becoming very involved in her own club to save the earth. Her good friend, Blake is gay but hides it for fear of his father's anger. Lani and Blake are compulsive about checking their horoscopes and Lani truly believes in fate (hence the title). As the narrator, we find out from Lani about how her best friend, Erin, saved her when they were younger and they have been inseparable since. Lani has also become friends with Danielle in her ecology club. But Lani is insecure and also unaware of herself as being interesting to guys. She has never had a real boyfriend and when she meets Erin's latest flame, Jason, she has no reason to believe he might be interested in her. But it becomes obvious to Blake that Jason is interested in Lani and when they start hanging out together, Lani likes Jason but just sees him as a friend and nothing more. It is when Jason finally tells Lani he cares about Lani, that things get really interesting. Jason is a great guy;athletic, funny, a mentor to younger kids and a lifeguard during the summer. With only 2 months left before summer, Lani and Jason stay friendly; when Erin leaves for summer camp, Jason breaks up with her in an email and Lani and Jason begin seeing each other and it is a pretty perfect summer, what will happen when Erin returns? A great book for girls.

View all my reviews
Read more…

Blog Topics by Tags

Monthly Archives