Preview: A Random Blog with an Occasional Side of Podcasts
A Random Blog with an Occasional Side of Podcasts
A shameless attempt to bring more publicity to my life.
At the Google Teacher Academy
I"m lucky enough to be one of the pilot teachers invited to the Google Teacher Academy. Gathered at the Google Campus in Mountain View are fifty educators from Northern California to explore technology that can innovate teaching and learning. This morning we explored three Google tools (Google Earth, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and Google Search Techniques) and how they can be applied in K-12 classrooms.
We've been taken on a short tour of the Google Campus and been induced into a food coma in Charley's cafeteria. An observation, it was pointed out to us that the cubicles at Google are designed for employees to collaborate with each other on projects. Are we preparing our students to be productive in this type of environment?
Currently, we're fishbowling a panel discussion about Information Literacy. Several interesting points have been brought up: first and foremost there is a difference between reading and writing online and reading and writing on paper. Students need to develop a completely different skill set to be able to successfully read and write online. Accompanying this skill set is the idea that students need to know how to search online and assess online resources.
David Warlick just mentioned that a recent Department of Labor study has noted that today's K-12 students will hold 10 different jobs during their career. Many of these jobs have not been created yet. So, the educational model that teachers grew up under is not valid. We cannot expect to graduate students out of high school with all of of the knowledge that they need to survive and thrive until retirement. It is an unreasonable expectation now to think K-12 education contains a set know of facts or information that is required by all students.
David is also making the point that we need to model the behavior that we want to see in our students. Instead of showing students an image online, show them the whole procedure. What terms were used to search for the image? Why was a specific image selected? These type of critical thinking skills cannot be taken for granted, they need to be taught.
It's being brought up that collaborative Google tools, such as Docs and Spreadsheets, provide students with the ability to synthesize what they are learning. Learning is not a passive activity. Not only can students collaborate with each other through Docs and Spreadsheets, but this tool can provide an authentic audience that motivates students to write.
At breakneck speed, we are now moving to a discussion with Google engineers about safe searching in school.
"You Must Be The Change That You Want To See In The World!"
DEN Educator Spotlight
I was informed this evening that I am being offered the chance to appear on the DEN web site in the Educator Spotlight section
. Obviously, I'm very flattered by the thought. However, part of the honor means writing a short bio about myself to accompany a picture of my own choosing. (I'm not sure which will be more difficult, writing something flattering about myself or finding a picture of myself that is flattering.) I thought I would take a look at the current and past educators spotlighted for some inspiration. What a humbling experience! The DEN has many great members, and the spotlight certainly highlights some exceptional educators. In particular I was intrigued by the spotlight on Brian Bartel. If you have a minute, check out Brian Bartel's blog
, it's very current, fascinating, and extremely educational.
Well, I only have a week to generate some information about myself that can hopefully indicate why I'm listed in the DEN Educator Spotlight. Wish me luck!
First Podcast since Sea World
I finally forced myself to sit down and put together a podcast. This took a lot longer than I thought it would. The majority of the audio for this podcast was captured with a 4G iPod and a DLO microphone. Unfortunately, the DEN members were a little too enthusiastic with their singing. The group participation portions of the song are too distorted to keep. So, this podcast is the Shamu Song - Karaoke style
To make this podcast, I downloaded the recorded audio into Audacity. then I cut and pasted the audible portions of the song together. The final audio product was then exported as a MP3. I then went to unitedstreaming.com and searched the image library for pictures that match the song. Finally, I put the whole thing together in iMovie. Hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws, and I hope you like it.
Adjusting this Blog - Wrestling with RSS
I spent a large portion of the day (and evening) struggling with getting this Blogger site to syndicate an RSS feed (I believe I am using those words correctly). I found out that there are two different types of feeds Atom
. Apparently, Blogger uses Atom and can keep interested parties up to date with either an Atom feed or an RSS feed. Blogger suggests using Feedburner
to create an RSS feed. However, (I'm sure this only happens to me) my attempts to get Feedburner to create a RSS feed for this blog did not match the steps of the Quick Start Guide
for Blogger. After much troubleshooting, it appears that my problems stem from the fact that several of my blog entries were created in Word and copied and pasted into Blogger. It turns out that Word can create some "droppings" when you copy and paste into Blogger. These droppings can interfere with the creation of a functioning RSS feed. So the wonderful people at Blogger have created Blogger for Word
which allows you to use Word as a blog editor and post directly to Blogger without experiencing the side effects of "Word droppings". After I cleaned up
my blog postings, the RSS feed appears to be functioning properly. During one of moments of despair, I tried out FeedBlitz
as a substitute for an RSS feed. Instead of keeping readers up to date through an RSS aggregator, FeedBlitz sends subscribers emails whenever the blog is updated. (I learned about this tool from the DEN.) This set up very easily, and I have decided to give FeedBlitz permanent residence status on my blog. Hopefully you will choose to keep updated with this blog either through an RSS aggregator, such as netvibes
, or by subscribing through FeedBlitz.
A quick aside about podcasting. If you are looking for a reasonable mobile recording device for your podcasts, you might want to consider the SanDisk line of MP3 players. Circuit City currently has the 512 MB
and 1 GB
models for sale with very attractive discounts. I have tested the voice recording feature on this model and found it to be very suitable for podcasting. For less than the price of the iPod microphone attachment alone, you can have yourself a great podcasting tool. For the price of an iPod and a microphone attachment, you can obtain several podcasting recorders. Just some food for thought.
K12 High Speed Network and Education
Today, I attended a technology meeting that discussed enhancing K-12 education through the use of videoconferencing. The California State Parks offers PORTS
(Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students). We got a sampling of units available through PORTS. We visited (virtually) Crystal Cove State Park, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and Ano Nuevo State Reserve. Park Rangers from each place discussed the types of activities that classrooms could participate in during the videoconference. We also saw a video of a class of students videoconferencing with a California assemblyman. I'm looking forward to trying this type of activity in a classroom with the desktop Polycom system being distributed by K12 HSN
Thanks to Discovery Educator Network Staff
Of course, this regional institute would not have been possible without the long hours of planning and work by the Jannita, Susan, Danielle, Kristin, Betsy, and Hall. Please add your comment below with your special note of thanks and I will give a link to this blog entry as a token of our appreciation to the DEN crew.
Thanks to Sea World Staff
All of us had the experience of a lifetime during the past 5 days at Sea World, thanks in large part to the staff. Obviously, Judith, Jonathan, James, and Theresa had a huge impact on the regional institute as they were our main points of contact. However, I heard many stories from DEN members how many different Sea World staff went above and beyond their job descriptions to help us out with interviews and other special requests. As part of my letter thanking Sea World for this event, I would like to provide a link to this blog entry. Please add your comment below about your positive experiences with Sea World staff.
Sea World - Presentation Day
I felt a sense of sadness began to set in as we made our way to the hospitality center for breakfast. I realized that this would be the last time, we would be walking from the residence camp into Sea World. After breakfast, the culmination to our time at Sea World began, and it was amazing. The instructional groups took turns presenting their digital stories, podcasts, blogs, and so much more. Just like the Spirit activity that got this institute started, it was amazing to see how each group took the same instructional premise and turned in a staggering variety of products. In my humble opinion, the cream of the crop was the digital story about extinction. After every group, there was a flurry of “How did you…” type questions that would have provided enough fuel for another five-day institute.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and with several wet eyes and a few tissues, the first ever West Coast Regional DEN Institute came to a close. However, through the strategies and tools provided through DEN and this time together, I hope that we will continue to learn from each other. We will share instructional strategies and tools through the DEN web site. I also hope to “aggregate the RSS feeds” from a number of DEN member blogs and podcasts. If you do start a blog, podcast, Flickr account, or anything else with an RSS feed, please list the URL in a comment on this blog.
Sea World - Day Four
Today began much too early and ended much too late. We got our wake-up call in the Manatee exhibit and Shark tube early enough to pack up and move along before the exhibits opened to the public.Atlantic Ocean
We began the day with a very interesting Behind the Scenes Tour. The tour began at CSI:Sea World, where a medical technician showed us how x-rays and blood tests are used to determine the health of the animals. Among the more interesting sights, an x-ray of coins in a penguin, and the shoes of a toddler eaten by a dolphin (the shoes, not the toddler). We also saw the rehabilitation area for sea turtles and sea lions as well as the maternity ward for dolphins. The tour was capped off by feeding squid to Moray Eels.Instructional Group
The remainder of the day was spent working with our instructional group. The pressure was on, since all projects are due tomorrow. We did take time to finish off parts of the scavenger hunt. We enjoyed a leisurely ride on the Sky Ride and took pictures for the multimedia presentation of the scavenger hunt. However, most of the day was spent working on the projects. In fact, we encountered many other working groups at the wee hours of 1 am and 2 am frantically rendering projects and shifting files on flash drives.As usually happens during these work periods, many happy memories were created by the "punch drunk" DEN members. Hopefully some of them will share these stories as comments to this blog posting.
Sea World - Day Three
Today was our turn for the Whales Tour. We began the day learning about the different types of whales (killer whales are dolphins and all dolphins are whales). Then we got a chance to see some Commerson Dolphins. Those things can stop and turn on a dime. After a delicious breakfast with a very famous whale, we had the pleasure of feeding breakfast to a group of beluga whales.Instructional Group
Our group started at the Pets Rule show. Unlike the other Sea World shows, this one is not limited to marine animals. This show is ruled by common pets, such as: dogs, cats, ducks, and even pigs. The animals engaged in a huge variety of activities, such as jumping rope and tightrope walking. What was particularly amazing about this show was the fact that all of the starring animals were rescued from shelters, and some because their original caretakers felt they were not capable of being trained.DEN Activities
Breakfast with Shamu was the highlight of the DEN morning activities. It was hard to concentrate on the food while Shamu and family were just yards away displaying their tricks and posing for photo opportunities.
Today's intructional time was very interactive. Several DEN members got up to show us the ins-and-outs of PowerPoint, Google Earth, Inspiration, TimeLiner, as well as unitedstreaming's own Assignment Builder and Quiz Center.
The largest surprise of the trip was presented tonight. We knew that we were camping out in one of the Sea World exhibits, we just didn't know which one. We found out as we unrolled our sleeping bags in the Manatee Rescue exhibit. It was very peaceful being surrounded by manatees that were amusing themselves by rolling around underwater. However, several adventurous DEN members talked the camp counselors into moving their sleeping bags next door...into the Shark Encounter. It was a very thrilling (and sleepless) night spent under the 280,000 gallon shark tank with tiger sharks, black-tipped reef sharks, and even a lemon shark swimming a few feet from your face. Technology was front and center during this experience as many DEN members podcasted to their students about what it was like to sleep with the sharks
We lost the finger...However, it was hard to concentrate on deciphering the one lie hidden among the three truths. The fish faces made by the DEN members were just too amusing. Hopefully none of them will be making their way onto the DEN blogs...
Sea World - Day Two
Today’s experience cannot be expressed with words. We were fortunate enough to wade in the Forbidden Reef and hand-feed the bat rays. Contrary to their appearance and my impulse to pull away, bat rays are extremely soft animals. As they swam by our feet, they had no problem with us reaching out and stroking their heads and backs, which almost had the texture of velvet. We were then given small squid, which we were told is the equivalent of junk food, to feed to the bat rays. There was a lot of trust involved in feeding the bat rays, since their mouths are on the bottom. We had to leave our hands holding the squids under the water and let the bat rays swim over our hands and basically suck the squid out of our hands.
This experience was followed up with a trip to the shark lab, where we saw some shark eggs, and a trip through the shark tube. It was pretty neat to view the sharks from the bottom of a 280,000 gallon tank of water.Instructional Group
Our group began our work time by viewing the “Clyde and Seamore” show. We were hoping to gather video footage and some sound bites to fit into a podcast. At this point we have decided upon the theme for our projects will be personifying the animals at Sea World. We think our projects will take the shape of the animals teaching each other the technology that is being explored at the DEN Institute. For example, we will probably have the killer whales "pod"casting about how-to podcast...DEN Activities
We spent two incredibly enlightening sessions with David Warlick. He provided great instruction, examples, and resources for blogging, podcasting, and utilizing RSS feeds. I don’t think I’m the only one who walked away from this time with a brain that was overflowing with new ideas and a desire for oodles of free time for experimentation.
After dinner, we were informed that an agenda item had been added to our schedule. We were going to see the star of Sea World, Shamu. For some bizarre reason, several DEN members felt compelled to sit in the SOAK (Students Out Acquiring Knowledge) Zone. For an even more bizarre reason, I was talked into joining the group in the Soak Zone. (55 degrees is just a number, until you’re covered with water that is cooled to that temperature.) I will never be able to go to an aquatic show again without conjuring up the image of Ray, sans poncho, waving the finger in the face of Shamu’s wrath.Walruses
We got the finger!!! In a very competitive game of questions and answers (during which all answers were either True/False, a number, or a color), the Walruses dominated the ticket gathering process. We felt sorry for the judges, as they had to make split second decisions to determine which group was first with the correct answer. Due to the pressure of this event, we noticed that the judges could only work short shifts before they either retired or recruited the assistance of additional judges. On a personal note, I won a pack of Post-It Picture Paper, a great way to show off my DEN pictures.
Thankfully no one was jealous of the finger, and there was a great deal of networking that occurred after the team-building games. We were all anxious to try out the podcasting, blogging, and RSS resources presented by David Warlick. There were even a few brave souls that entertained us with Karaoke. In a rather twisted use of technology, we experimented with the Karoake contestants and chromakey.
Sea World - Day One
There is a great comedy sketch called "Tech Desk" in which a technician refers to technology illiterate people as "12 o'clock flashers". These are the type of people who's VCRs are always flashing 12 because they don't know how to set the time. Well, this morning I became a 12 o'clock flasher. I overcompensated on my iPod for Daylight Savings Time. I set my alarm for 6:30, and was wondering why it was still so dark when it woke me up. Needless to say I did not sleep for the extra hour, but instead spent it anxiously awaiting the start of the full day of the conference. I'm off now to the SeaWorld tour.Atlantic Ocean
Our group got the "Tour of Sea World" first. We got to see all of the attractions currently at Sea World and members of the group reminisced about how Sea World has changed over the years. For example, the pearl divers became the Forbidden Reef...DEN Activities
Hall Davidson was the facilitator for two sessions the explored the world of digital storytelling. We moved through the process from defining digital storytelling to creating our own digital stories. We saw many examples of digital stories, from some that incorporated digital still pictures, sound effects, and narration; to those that used video clips, transitions, animations, and chromakey effects. We explored several different platforms for creating digital stories, including Movie Maker, iMovie, and Adobe Premiere Elements.Instructional Groups
Our instructional group met for the first time today. We tried to gather our thoughts and ideas for the projects we need to create during a lunch meeting. However, it seems overwhelming and we all want to learn so much. We ended up spending some time gathering video footage and some podcasting audio.Walruses
Today, the team-building activity was a scavenger hunt around Sea World. We did learn, but we were frustrated that we scored enough points to win the contest, we just didn't turn in our answers fast enough. We deserved the finger!Overall
The food at Sea World is amazing. To top off the excitement of the day, we got to finish our activities with the dolphin and pilot whale show and a fireworks show.
Welcome to Sea World!
We just concluded the first event of the 2006 West Coast REgional DEN Conference at SeaWorld in San Diego. And all the DEN members certainly proved that they've got SPIRIT. The thing that amazed me about the Acrostic activity is the difference in each team's product. Some groups utilized inventive spelling, some created phrases, while others created sentences or paragraphs. All the acrostic products provided a "spiritual" start to the conference.
To cap of the evening, we played SHAMU! I'll have to focus on the fun side events during the game, since I didn't win any of the games or prizes. The most amusing would have to be the winner of game playing with more than one game board, despite the explicit instructions.
Everyone is excited about the upcoming "Behind the Scenes" tours and using the information to create lessons with innovative uses of technology.