Archive for the 'Fun' Category

Future Think for Educators

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8]

Great film that helps us envision education and learning in transition. Some things educators, policy makers, parents, teacher, curriculum developers should all be getting excited about…

  • Cloud Computing - In many cases you don’t need to have software installed on your computers.  Content development tools such as Google Docs and many others make it possible to create and share documents, materials, etc. on the web. Students can track changes, add notes or comments and truly author pieces together.
  • Mobile Devices – Mobile devices and smart phones are definitely here to stay. Yesterday I realized that I only use my laptop if I’m working on something complex or lengthy. All other materials for reading or immediate access are funneled through my mobile. Educators can search out or even design learning enhanced by or using Mobile Devices – Why not create or develop learning activities where students can enhance their learning by connecting to materials and resources while they’re learning, or on a field trip? In a previous post I shared a number of different possible learning applications for cellphones. Several are quite ingenious and fun. You can view a detailed mind map of the lecture notes from the presentation where I got those ideas.
  • Leveraging Social Networking and Media Sharing Tools – Students and educators can learn from social networks that have pods or communities built around the topics they are interested in.  I found this great community on Learning Physics Online. You could even find or start communities on Ning or other similar networking site. Students (and or their teachers) can create videos, film projects, and presentations to put up on ‘safe’ sharing sites such as TeacherTube or YouTube. Check out this group of student’s retelling of the Boxer Rebellion. Love how they cleverly used recognizable styles and characterizations from Hong Kong  & martial arts cinema. I shared this some time ago, but I never get tired of watching it.
  • Alternatives to Written Papers – While I still think this skill is absolutely necessary to have. I don’t think the essay is the only way to test someone’s knowledge and grasp of content anymore. Students can put together podcasts. Writing the content and putting together the interview questions for the podcast as well as engaging in the discussion and interviews can help reinforce the content they are learning. Sometimes writing a script for a film, story boarding, and coordinating the filming is way more labor intensive than writing a term paper. Plus you’re actually using far more skills that can transfer to real jobs and life (… outlining, drafting, planning, writing, coordination, directing, … ummmm project management. I actually heard somewhere that film school is the new MBA :))
  • Ethics & Security Education for Parents and Students – yes the web can be a scary place, but so is the street. If we train students  (and parents) to be aware of the dangers and learn guidelines for avoiding them then that’s half the battle. It would also be in our best interests if we teach the younger generation appropriate netiquette.

More resources:

Schools, Please Don’t Kill Our Creativity

At a workshop I attended yesterday, Barry Dahl mentioned this unforgettable lecture by Ken Robinson at the TED conference. In his incredibly adroit and humorous talk, Robinson maintains that schools today thrash the creativity out of kids. I would argue that the final death knell takes place once they enter today’s corporate work world.

In another inspiring lecture, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO champions the importance of play in productivity of design and innovation.

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

How can we, as educators promote creativity and play in our classrooms, while teaching important knowledge and skills? I feel that developing curriculum driven by “student created content” is key to developing the creative minds that will build our future. I don’t know about you, but as an old doddering woman, I would rather live in a world built by the next designer of earth shaking technologies and innovative policies that help promote progress and not in a world populated by people who are fettered by rules that squelch creativity and productivity.

“It’s in the making of things that kids actually do their learning”

(Exerpt below is from an article I wrote for our company blog.)

Creating content in schools extends past the traditional class-report or diorama making. I found this wonderful example of the King Middle School in Portland, Maine. I believe that this school is really putting the approaches to 21st Literacy Education in a Action. The video provides examples of how the school integrates subjects like science, English, math with technology education.


Click the photo to view the video. Note the video will open and play automatically in another browser window.

The kids participate in truly constructivist activities, by developing videos, artwork, and collaborating on the development of music and music scores. All of these activities and projects require formal knowledge in writing, math, science, research and history that used to be taught to students via textbooks in an isolated context. Here are a few quotes from the short film that really captured my attention:

“We don’t use textbooks, per se… we do a lot of research in class.”

“The approach is to bring out the best in every student.”

“It’s in the making of things, that kids do their learning.”

The school also partners with businesses like a local printing press to develop products. The students work together as teams to develop items such as books for the press. These students also have the opportunity to work with professionals like the professional documentary maker who help them improve the quality of their videos. They get real-life experience and are encouraged to stretch and deliver quality projects. They are not coddled or isolated from doing ‘real work’ because they are not ready to do it on a ‘professional level.’

As I finished watching the video, I realized that many teachers might have issues with the fact that some students contributed 7 pages of work to a final project while some contributed only three paragraphs. I like the attitude that these teachers at King have that “Everyone does what they can.” Plus everyone should contribute to the project using the skills and talents that they have. Perhaps a student who needs help with math but has kinesthetic talents can choreograph a dance, and teach the other students how to perform the dance to be included in a final project. A student who lags in writing but has design skills might lead the team that develops the costumes or set. Both students are exercising their communication and leadership skills in helping other get their tasks done. Students who are better at writing can help coach these students when they have to do the written component for the project.

I think the comment that sums up the value and power of this approach to education was made by the kids of King Middle School themselves, “No one feels stupid here anymore.”

Why wasn’t I born twenty years later? I would have loved to go to school in a place like this. Seeing examples like this really makes me excited about the work we do here at PLS because I believe that in what we do we strive to make learning experiences effective and powerful.

Generational Wha…? Paul Anka Find his Teen Spirit

Some one help me get up off the floor… Interesting take on Nirvana’s hit.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsS811o21-k]

Using WetPaint to Create A Course Wiki

I recently developed a wiki for a course that’s being tested right now, and I have to tell you… I’m quite amazed at the possibilities of using wikis for collaborative learning. After developing the course objectives, the SME and I decided to use the wiki as an essential part of the students’ learning experience. The wiki would be available as a companion collaboration area and a sort of explorative playground for the students. As one of the course foci was on teaching using Web 2.0 tools, we wanted to help immerse students in the actual experience of working and collaborating with others online using a wiki.

We decided to use WetPaint as our wiki tool, because of the easy to use WYSIWYG (you know I have to spell this out in my head everytime I type it – arconymitis) features and the fact that it’s so easy to embed video.

Here were some of the applications and activities we included in the wiki:

  • A profile page - where students could share a picture, a few facts about themselves, favorite links (and possibly videos or other media). The idea is to help build community among the particpants and instructor
  • A collaborative link section – that includes the major concepts in the course. As the students did their own research on the web on topics of their choice they would continually add and share the links to (articles, documentation, media, forums, etc.) with their peers
  • A fun video sharing page – I included this because I wanted to introduce students to the idea of sharing video content… and the notion that sharing content online doesn’t just mean text, html pages, or print content
  • An image collage activity - the goal of this activity was to collect images that describe both Boomer and Net Generations. The students work with each other collectively to post their images to the wetpaint collage
  • Assorted graded activities where students collaborated on content
  • Use of the forum threads to discuss content

I took a few approaches to designing the wiki structure and layout of the pages for maxium student participation. Nothing stinks more, than when you build a learning application and no one uses it.

  • Keep everything as simple as possible – don’t put to many things on a page
  • Post instructions – (or links to FAQ)s if you even suspect that people will not understand how to do or use something (.i.e. use “Context Sensitive Help” whenever you can)
  • Model wiki behavior – Always provide examples and suggestions of contributions
  • Lay Easter eggs – in multiple places. I actually started planting interesting links and content in different places. Keep putting new things in different areas to keep the wiki live and growing
  • Make activities fun and light hearted – when necessary. Human beings (even stodgy adults) learn through play

The course seems to be going well. Students are contributing to the wiki so far, and I don’t think anyone has had any troubles with understanding how to use WetPaint (because it’s a fairly well designed tool). If you haven’t checked out WetPaint I seriously suggest that you take a look at it as a tool for collaborative learning.

An image of the “Community Links Page” – students share information on their research and finding on different topics

wetpaint.gif

UK Mac

Heheheh… here are some of my favorite Comedians (Mitchell and Web from That Mitchell and Web Look and Peep Show) in a Mac Ad UK style. I was going to save this for Friday but, oh well. You can watch the whole series here.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZsuNSdEVqo]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sol2zeR_h60]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuHGThfbQog]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_clY2-Y_eFg]

Friday Fun: A. A. Milne Poetry on “Old Poetry.com”

Thanks again to Christy for bringing up an old childhood favorite, the poem “Halfway Down the Stairs.”

If you remember the Muppet Show, I believe there was a song, sung by the Kermit the Frog’s nephew Robin that features the words from this poem. I was able to go through several of the other poems by Milne at the link below. There’s something more than soothing and comforting about his poetry. It’s not just because they are so evocative of the simplicity of childhood.

Thanks to Christy’s reference. I actually added the Youtube video of the Muppet Song below :)

http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/show/13269-A-A–Milne-Halfway-Down

“Halfway Down the Stairs”

By A. A. Milne

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn’t any
other stair
quite like
it.
i’m not at the bottom,
i’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
where
I always
stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn’t up
And it isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery,
It isn’t in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn’t really
Anywhere!
It’s somewhere else
Instead!

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGFR3zz12p0]

Friday Fun: What American Civil War General Are You?

Okay, it just occurred to me that this might not be fun for a lot of people, but being an old Civil War story addict it was for me.

So, I am General William Tecumsah Sherman… at least I wasn’t George McClellan. For some reason that guy just didn’t sit right with me. Though to be honest if you look at the gamut of all the Civil War Generals: Grant, Sherman, Lee, Hood, Forest, Sheridan, Johnston, Jackson, etc. Each of them had qualities that would have made great leaders in any organization. Grant was a get it done kind of fellow. Lee was a creative strategist who realized that to gain an advantage you needed by taking long chances. He recognized that they were at a disadvantage and that they could only win through a strategy of long chances. Also, each of them had some faults that could bring down any organization. I particularly wasn’t a big fan of both Forrest or Sherman & Sheridan’s championing of institutionalized violence and racism after the war was over.


Which Civil War General are You?


William Tecumseh Sherman: Widely thought to be insane by most journalists for hating their questions, Sherman has been called one of the first generals to understand modern war. His theory was that to win the war, the Union must break the Confederate’s will to fight, as well as their means to carry on the war. Needless to say, burning his way across Georgia and South Carolina did not earn him esteem from his opponents.The phrase “War is Hell” is Sherman’s. He is often considered callous to human loss of life, though in his mind the quicker the war could be won, the less lives that would be lost in the long run.
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Pepino in Alicante

WordPress is really bull right now. I can’t seem to publish changes to my earlier posts, and I don’t have the time to worry. I wanted to scream this morning because I added a long write up of some of the shops, places and businesses we’ve frequented here… including a youtube video of Pepino… and it all disappeared after clicking the “Save” button.

I’ll try to post the vid again here. Note, the picture quality is bad but the sound’s the best quality of the videos I’ve found on youtube. Hopefully of the countless people taking video at the bar performance last night, one of them will post the vid of the performance.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYvX34GgITc]

More, video and sounds on digital music here:

http://createdigitalmusic.com/

Geeking out in Alicante

Beach walk at Alicante

What a gorgeous place… beautiful and the people here are wonderful-wonderful.

Esplanade at Alicante

greendoor.jpg

Went to see a band (Game Boy Rock, if that’s an actual genre) called “Pepino.” At the “Soda Bar.”

Check them out….

Eric gets his picture taken with Pepino!

Pepino and Eric

Nosh on Kebab After the Show

Friday Funny – What’s Happening

I suppose it’s funny only if you remember this show from the 70’s.

Remember that episode when Re-run taped a tape recorder to his chest before they went to the concert? I actually think there’s a meme about that conversation somewhere.

Original Intro

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpj6ihSwPXw]

Spoof of the Intro

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOhb2C1EvnI]


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