Tuesday, December 22, 2009

la escuela

la escuela, originally uploaded by Amity Beane.

It's been a cold couple of days at school. This early morning shot of the former elementary school reminds me of my Enfield Station days.

the day before christmas vacation

Teaching, paying attention, and pleased so far...tomorrow is the last half-day and I think I might actually get a few things done before total surrender to the Christmas vacation gods.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

fab collab--well, no.

Last spring I worked long and hard on an integrated unit using backward design. My collaborator moved away (boo). He didn't tell me he was leaving. When this school year began I figured it out. So I had to scramble for a new collaborator and decided to ask a teacher at my school to help me with a Neruda unit. We talked a few times. Mostly I asked him for help because when he and his wife went to Chile last year they brought me back a bunch of cool Neruda stuff.

But the collaboration didn't really work out. We work in different buildings, life is crazy and hectic, and by the time I got my unit together on paper I had actually already taught most of it. So the collaboration part fell by the wayside. In a way that was a relief because the whole idea of going through the process again felt very overwhelming. To be honest, the concept of collaborating in an integrated unit while learning the ropes of backward design was just too much! It was too much to juggle and get right the first time AND the second time! So the third time I decided, no collaborators! Just me, myself, and I!

The good news: I started my THIRD backwards design unit on Picasso and the writing of it went soooo much faster and I started teaching it. Based on all the data that I gathered on the Neruda unit my whole game plan changed. Go slower. More structure. I even did a slide show that I thought would be the kiss of death but instead it made the kids sit up and think--the slide show featured the Maine Learning Results and what they should know and be able to do by the end of the unit. This clear direction up front has made the first two classes extremely engaging, structured, and even a little fun (one student pointed out Neruda was too fun--in a nice way telling me it was too loosely structured).

Once again, I am learning in ways unexpected. So that is good.

But still. This class is exhausting.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

a partner in teaching

I have been working with a dear friend who teaches at PUCMM in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He asked for suggestions on how to incorporate technology and I suggested they make videos or podcasts to re-create the history they are learning in his Dominican History class.

In exchange for my expertise, I asked him to be a part of my teaching on the Ning. He's also my contact for the DR2010 trip--world, meet Luis Midence, someone who really is amazing.

me and hb

I can explain how we met some other time, it's an interesting story, but for now just say we've been friends for 7 years.

His students, nineteen- and twenty-year-old Dominicans, are on step two/producción right now, and I am thrilled at their engagement. The topic of their video is Trujillo, and the idea is to share the perspectives of people not in the DR during the time of prolific events of his dictatorship. So some interesting perpectives happening--when Luis sent me scripts to look at, I saw they had Haitians and Kreyol, and reports from Miami, the Canary Islands, and Spain. I am so curious now as to the video portion and how they will portray these people--a Dominican lens, if you will!

We connected several times in the past 3 months, on Skype and google talk, to talk about his class project. His participation and enthusiasm helped me define my steps for multimedia and I borrow heavily from Marco Torres, except I added a step to his original Four P's of Multimedia. This is designed for Spanish students.



share rubrics
share student samples

storyboard logical flow of visual
script logical flow of audio
source citation




teacher sees it first

in class
at home
on the web (closed networks)


completed rubric
comment from teacher
comments from peers
self-evaluation by student


what was your role?
what did you learn?
what would you change?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Learning Styles

Cross-posted at Dirigo Spanish. Da ning, baddabing.

Recently my students took a learning style inventory. I took it as well. The data showed the main learning styles of my class are aural, social, and verbal.

Here are my results.

Here is my main learning style descriptor:

If you have a strong social style, you communicate well with people, both verbally and non-verbally. People listen to you or come to you for advice, and you are sensitive to their motivations, feelings or moods. You listen well and understand other’s views. You may enjoy mentoring or counseling others.

You typically prefer learning in groups or classes, or you like to spend much one-on-one time with a teacher or an instructor. You heighten your learning by bouncing your thoughts off other people and listening to how they respond. You prefer to work through issues, ideas and problems with a group. You thoroughly enjoy working with a “clicking” or synergistic group of people.

You prefer to stay around after class and talk with others. You prefer social activities, rather than doing your own thing. You typically like games that involve other people, such as card games and board games. The same applies to team sports such as football or soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, baseball and hockey.
Common pursuits and phrases

Some examples of pursuits that people with a strong social style may follow include counseling, teaching, training and coaching, sales, politics, human resources, and others.

As with people with the logical style, you are more likely to use phrases that reflect your dominant style out of physical, aural and visual styles. Here are some other phrases you may also use:

* Let’s work together on this.
* We can work it out.
* Tell me what you are thinking.

* Help me understand this.
* Let’s pull some people together to discuss.
* Let’s explore our options.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

hierarchy of needs

Data-driven story-telling, or story-driven data-telling? I like the latter.

In examining my data this semester, I've come to this.

Student failure/student success is connected to the above hierarchy.

Part of what I do is meet the needs as they come at me.

This month I ordered two boxes of fruit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

good good things

I don't talk about photojournalism enough. I am afraid if I talk about how awesome it is, it might disappear.


These kids amaze me. Really, they do. A lot.


Two days worth of conferences. I did student-led for freshmen.

Of 24 slots, 20 were filled with parents and kids.

It made for two busy nights. For the record? Monday night conferences?

Not great timing for teachers. We work late on a Monday and people assume we have the whole week to recover. Suuure.

* *

My favorite moment of the night: "I notice you seem apprehensive about speaking in class."

"I'm afraid I will say something stupid."

A huge smile from me: "Oh honey, everyone is going to sound stupid at first."

and then

"I once told people I was pregnant when I was fifteen. They took one look and said, no you're not."

and then

"I will laugh with you, not at you."

and finally

"Language is fun!"

.....lucky for me, they were overtired enough to laugh and smile and go along for the ride.

I really like student-led conferences.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More data

My brain has been very much wrapped around visualization of data. To date, I am looking at Google Gapminder. And my brother pointed me to this gem. (You really gotta click to see his lovely diagram.)

David McCandless writes:

* Information needs to be interesting (meaningful & relevant) and have integrity (accuracy, consistency).
* Design needs to have form (beauty & structure) and function (it has to work and be easy to use).

You may disagree. I welcome your input. I may not have got it right.

Something surprised me about doing this though.

In information design, it seems, if you have just two elements, you get something tolerable and cool. i.e.

* integrity + form = eye candy
* interestingness + function = experiment

(I’m not entirely sure about these combos)

But if you combine three elements without the fourth, things suddenly FAIL:

* interesting subject, solid information, looks great, but is hard to use = useless.
* amazing data, well designed, very easy to read but isn’t that interesting = boring

What do you think? This is a work in progress. Can you help me shape this a bit? Have I missed anything?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

reminding myself

la cayena en el aula

There is a cycle to all of this. Beauty in a flower. The Dominican service trip has a spark about it that reminds me of why I love that place. Flowers everywhere. Spanish like music to a Maine ear.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

polciy makers versus practitioners

What is our philosophy of teaching with technology?

What are we doing with these tools?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

what's new this year

Well, wikis are over. Out. Boring.

Weel, I still use them. As data storage. And link-mania. But not for learning.

Learning is happening on a ning.

I have two (both private networks). One is called Dirigo Spanish. So far I only have the sophomores on there with 7 process observers, all teachers of Spanish or something else, and some native speakers. Cool. 40 people total on this network. I have not introduce chat but the platform language is in Spanish--amazing how fast these fifteen year olds are navigating, making meaning in this new place.

The other is Dirigo Photo. This has 36 people. This is a very creative ning. It is photo-heavy. It is beautiful to see the creative side of these kids. I am teaching design as well as writing as well as composition. Loving it. Kids are too.




Oh, and I have RULES for the ning. Don't just go sign students up to one--let me tell you what to expect, first!

Maybe that is next post...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

working together

Just presented with a great group last night. We read a wonderful book and then worked synchronously and asynchronously to pull it together. We talked for a long time and had lots of activities. Here is the presentation in Powerpoint.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Last week the other shoe dropped in my grad school career and I was forced to look at actual numerals, you know, those things that measure things. I am not big on measurements. Heck, I think some assessments are just plain silly--the growth chart in Spanish is a lot more than numbers and is more about can you get your point across? Even when I cook, after the first few times of a new recipe it's often just a crap shoot of throwing things together. So last week when faced with a 20-page assignment of looking at actual numerals and actually adding and figuring out percentages, I literally came home from class and cried. Not just one night but two nights in a row, I cried.

Now, what excites me about the numerals is that they can be translated into beautiful graphics. Graphics excite me. Colors excite me. It's represented the numerals accurately that I am afraid I will woefully mess up.

It's a challenge. Challenges are GOOD. They mean that I am actually out of my comfort zone, and growing. Growing is done through pain, people. I know that.

Anyway. Expect more tears. And then expect some rocking graphics and charts that paint a picture of the people I serve and the people I work with and for. It will help me to design a better research proposal and it will help me understand what challenges are out there for the district as a whole.

In OTHER news....my advanced Spanish classes are ROCKING. It ain't easy to speak Spanish 90% of the time but we are doing it and I am giving lots of props and support and in return they are trying! They are trying to speak a language that is not their own. They are laughing. They are asking for help and support. They seem to understand that the learning curve is steep. It's like me and the numerals. It makes me cry but when I get it it will make me dance with joy. The sheer fact of knowing how it feels to not be Ms Automatically Successful Right Off The Bat gives me more empathy for my students than ever before. And that my friends is a VALUABLE experience.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

teaching teachers

This summer, tech camp happened and I taught a little bit about wikis. This morning was a show and tell session and I showed and told about my wiki.

more to come....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

back in class, teach

High school started two weeks back, and grad school is starting today!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

for the parents and the teachers

Anyone can use this list of great dinner questions. I got this from Will Richardson.

What did you make today that was meaningful?

What did you learn about the world?

Who are you working with?

What surprised you?

What did your teachers make with you?

What did you teach others?

What unanswered questions are you struggling with?

How did you change the world in some small (or big) way?

What’s something your teachers learned today?

What did you share with the world?

What do you want to know more about?

What did you love about today?

What made you laugh?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I love August

Weird, right? Some teachers get antsy when the last few days of summer are here. Me? I get happy. The change in the air, the need for organization...I like the laziness of summer but everything in me screams order! order! as soon as the thought of school is this close.

This month I taught three classes at tech camp. My biggest class was screencasting--I think due to clever marketing--and everything went smoothly in the class. The 17 or so teachers that attended were all able to download the app and make samples in a half-day session.

The other two sessions really ought to have been full days: WebQuests and wiki-centric classes. With these classes we spent a lot of time looking at exemplars, and then began the building/design process. It is hard in a half day to 1) design something of value and 2) construct it using new tech tools. I set up a wiki page to host the webquests which worked great for the people in the session. But realistically if you do not have a host already and need help getting started (be it a blog, wiki, whatever--there are many free and easy hosts) that can take time. It is VALUABLE time, it is LEARNING time, but it is not exactly building a webquest time. Same thing for wikis. Wikis take hundred of hours to build really good ones. Three hours on a hot August afternoon is like the first lick of an ice cream cone. There's a lot more to go.

It was a great experience, nonetheless. I managed to collaborate for a few hours with the lovely Ms. P and we worked on Cougar Paw wiki stuff.

Next week is my unofficial back-to-school week. I cannot wait. Order!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

summah skoo

Schools must be transformed from platforms for instruction to platforms for learning, from bureaucracies bent on control to learning organizations aimed at encouraging disciplined inquiry and creativity.

I got this from Will Richardson's blog, and he attributes it to Phillip Schlechty (not Scott McLeod, whom I've featured before with his lovely video about Bloom's taxonomy). It's a perfect intro to what I am about to tell you all about summer academy.

First of all, the numbers in the academy were scant. Two kids showed and they were not sure they wanted to be there. They were required to be there due to academic failures in their previous year.

My director charged me to make the learning time student-centered, with plenty of choice, and plenty of aspirational cheerleading. In other words, show these kids that school is okay and not a place where they are doomed to failure.

So the first day I unpacked my goals: we were going to do something physical every day, we were going to make movies, and we were going to cook. Those three activities were open to their own interests and I would support their choices. Beyond that we were going to tour the school and start the freshman portfolio, something I discovered was a huge source of anxiety for freshmen. I wanted them to be leaders among their peers when that time came.

So what, ultimately, happened? Well, besides a few parental calls..."Is this really summer school? My child says there is no learning. That it is all fun." Besides that, my students showed up every day, we had a morning meeting, and we planned our time together. I gave them support and encouragement and when necessary I told them, give me more, do better, climb higher, make it shine, make it awesome. I edited, gave feedback, encouraged, sometimes lectured, and did a lot of standing back and letting them just do it.

And they did not disappoint me. We filmed our cooking, and they decided what to cook. We filmed our physical activity, and they decided what that was. Ultimately we read a great essay that the genius sent over, and they wrote brilliant essays in response. We worked on the freshman portfolio (super session, anyone?) and the crowning achievement of the four week session was a visit to the local cable station, where they pitched ideas for local access and were able to check out professional equipment. I wish I could show off their videos here, but I will not. Know this: dreams were forged and allowed to flourish. And yes, it was a lot of fun. And yes, they learned something. They learned that their ideas and dreams were valuable and that school was a place to refine, hone, enhance, and take those dreams and ideas to the next level.

Hidden learning, my director called it. With script-writing came literacy skills. With storyboarding came logic. With recipes and cooking came basic math. With eating together at the end of a four hour marathon of cutting, chopping, sauteeing, filming, and baking, came a huge sense of accomplishment for THEM.

I'm glad I did summer academy, rabble rousing aside, (at the time I was hired there seemed to be flak from different directions about the job). Those kids are great kids and will make great freshmen. They are a step ahead of everyone else--they now know the school and have confidence that they can do stuff and do it well.

I'm pretty happy.

It was not "all flowers and sausages" to quote a favorite blog author. But despite typical teen resistance and antics, it was, in my mind, a huge success. Both students were invited to participate in leadership conference next week.

From failure to leadership. How is that for a role-reversal.

It's over now, and I can rest for a few weeks before tech camp.

Friday, July 17, 2009

new logo for wiki

new logo for wiki, originally uploaded by Amity Beane.

Wikis are my friend. I love using them as big binders to organize oodles of information.

This is the new logo for the new curriculum my colleague and I put together. (We've got so many hours invested, it made sense to gather it together in one spot.)

CLICK HERE for Dirigo World Language curriculum. This is a WORK IN PROGRESS. Hold your applause, your critiques, etc. If it is not perfect by September 2, then feel free to critique.

Monday, July 13, 2009

taking stock

Just looking at the master schedule for grad school. I have this summer "off", next fall "on", next spring "off", and next summer "on". Then it is a year of field-based research, and then I receive my degree! And then--who knows what is next?? I will give my time to my school, as my school paid for my degree. Maybe I will go on for a Ph.d, which will require a move. Maybe I will teach in an international school, which will require a move. Maybe I will stay right where I am, which will require no moving at all. I love where I live now. I like my community. I love my school.

It's a holding pattern for at least a few more years. And that is okay with me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

es oficial

I've been working on the Dominican Republic trip. This is one organized and led by myself, and the other trip principal is assistant principal. He and his wife (who is going as well) have worked overseas and done service trips many times. Between the three of us, we have the experience to do the trip, and I am pleased to say that twenty five others will accompany us!

This begins my second trip as a school leader. I love to plan trips, that is for sure.

We'll be traveling to Punta Rucía first, for three days. It's a pretty small town, and has a manatee refuge nearby. It'll be a jumping-off point for our marine biology focus....we are on an island, after all...and we'll spend the day on a small cayo, or island. This part of the trip will be camping with the ocean in the front yard, and with Profe's house in back of us, a shelter if need be, and also our home base in Punta Rucia.

Punta Rucia is not on the map above....but it is west of Puerto Plata and Luperon. Luperon is where Damalbi is from, and I love that little town, with the little square and fruit vendors, and a pristine harbor full of yachts and people of leisure. I stayed in town, under a mosquito net, with buckets for a shower, ¡muchas gracias!

This is this paradise: someplace unspoilt, yet maintained by the wealthy, the spoiled.

Then it is off to the city...to stay in the dorms, go to college for a day, and work with kids where we can find them. A school, a youth center, an orphanage. Who knows who we will meet?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

items of note

School is out.

I am teaching Summer Academy, a program for incoming ninth grade students.

My Dominican Republic trip proposal was approved by the school board. Yippee!

And...I was voted onto Leadership Team at school. It's a three year term as historian, good thing I can type fast.

Over the summer there will be three days of curriculum work with Mme. K, which will be great planning for next year. We are starting a World Language Seminar, and I hope to have it all on wiki by end of summer.

I am teaching three sessions at Summer Tech: screencasting, wikicentric class, and webquests.

It's a busy summer...see what happens when I don't have to take a class!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

coos canyon school

coos canyon school, originally uploaded by Amity Beane.

It's the last week of school. Everyone is tired. The rooms are getting broken down. The kids are scrambling for last minute things. It's finals. People are tired and need a break.

Summer vacation is necessary, is essential, for rejuvenation, for remembering why we teach.

My plans, after I finish this stack of grading, and this marathon week of finishing the year out....are to ride my bike, garden, take pictures, and write. A lot.

I love teaching. But I also love summer vacation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

outta nowhere

It just happened.

I was walking down the main hallway when two seniors came out of the ladies' and walked down the hall toward me. They were in caps and gowns, and I smiled and started clapping, and they started dancing towards me, huge smiles. They danced out the door and to the gym to practice marching.

All of a sudden, my chest tightened, and tears came out! I started crying. Those two girls have worked so hard to get to this point. They have had challenges other teens will not face until they are well into their twenties and thirties....They have had to grow up sooner than others and work harder than others to just cross this finish line.

I felt such pride for them and such love for them, that teacher love of launching, even though I didn't launch them, but just cheered them on all year, as they worked in their little round room. The tears rolled, I had my moment, and life went on.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

a senior reflects

An absolutely tremendous film was shown today by one of my seniors. It was all about her family camp and her time spent growing up in Paradise--my own word for Maine, rural Maine.

This is her reflection on the process. I just love it.

Though the final presentation was work-intensive and time consuming, I am very proud of the final product that I produced. I have learned from this experience in many ways.
I have produced a video about my camp on **** Lake, in spanish, that I am proud of. I have achieved my goals, though not necessarily in the order in which I planned. My timeline was helpful, though I found that it was a bit unrealistic at times. Though I have finished all that I set out to do, I ended up readjusting my schedule as time went on and I missed class for various reasons (envirothon, etc.). This experience provided a good lesson. Though my plans were well-laid, I succeeded in attaining my goals through being adaptable and working hard, by knowing when to abandon my predetermined schedule in preference for a more realistic or attainable order of events. I readjusted my timeline by focusing initially on accumulating and ordering photos and video clips. This makes allot more sense then what I had originally planned in my timeline - I was set to come up with a script and translate in the initial stages of project work. With my materials all laid out it was much easier to write a script. I did not foresee the difficulty of writing a script without any visuals - I will not attempt to do so again. This change in my approach caused the major discrepancy in my timeline and my actual chronology of events.
I really have learned allot throughout the course of completing this project. I have learned a good deal of spanish - obviously. I have learned many new words, words that I will most likely remember because of their significance to my life and my repeated usage of them. I have also improved my spanish speaking skills. By recording voiceovers, I was able to practice pronunciation multiple times. I like the idea or recording spanish translations beforehand - I was better able to pronounce things because I didn’t feel pressured to achieve perfection on the first try, in front of the whole class. I will be able to relax and enjoy the exhibition of my movie on presentation day, rather then being consumed with anxiety.
As I said before, I am really proud of my finished product. I am excited to show it to the class and to my family. I just know that my Pépére will get a kick out of it. I am going to translate it back into english and make a longer english version after graduation. This project really helped me to learn more about my family’s history, spanish, and time management.

This particular class has been spiritually reaffirming. I am doing the right thing at the right time with the right people. Her work is hers to own, to be proud of. I merely helped her find her voice. Now she has something she will treasure forever.

Friday, May 15, 2009

supah dupah

A while back I had this idea about having a work session after school for the freshmen who had no clue about portfolios. We have this portfolio program at my school, and I advise these freshmen. I adore them in their clueless-ness. In three more years they will be launching into the next step. I want to be there for that, and more importantly, be here, now, for them. For this portfolio process which even I do not really understand.

So, the idea was two-fold. Help them and educate myself.

So I asked my boss, and I talked to some people with some money to spare (the lovely grant ladies) and I got a little budget for food and paper and markers and stuff. And I made some posters and I invited the freshmen to come and hang out for two hours and just work on this stuff as a big group.

Tonight was session two out of three. And it was awesome. Every kid that came thanked me. Every kid that came made me smile. Every kid that came showed me something unique and priceless about themselves.

It wasn't that brilliant of an idea, but it worked. We came together and worked together and learned together about what the portfolio really is.

One more session. It'll be more celebratory than stressful. These kids have more confidence now that they have something of value to share. I feel like I know what to ask of them when it comes to proving to whomever what it is they have done this year.

It feels good to be a freshman adviser tonight, even if it means giving up a Friday afternoon that was absolutely gorgeous. In return there is this group of clued-in kids who feel better about school.

I remember how much I hated school. How ironic it is that I spend 180 days a year working in one, now. I think sometimes of the people who inspire me to just be real about what it is we are doing. I want these kids to not hate what they are asked to do, but to understand it. That really, we the teachers want them to know what it is they know and be proud of who they are and will become.

so very close!

I have a few remaining reading assignments to blog about and I am done with year one of graduate school. And man, it feel so good.

Last night, instead of looking at a stack of books and papers and my laptop, I actually:

1. Cooked my favorite comfort food
2. Did laundry
3. Started sorting my desk--which looks like a library threw up on it
4. Sorted recyclables
5. Started reading for pleasure! "The Farming of Bones" by Edwidge Danticat.

For the first time in 11 months, I felt "ama de casa"-ish, which is a way of saying house-wife-ey. As in, I walked into my home and saw it with fresh eyes and I actually had the desire to make it homey.

Grad school has definitely consumed me for the past year. Taking the summer off is sort of like...holy moly....wow....free time......

It feels good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

fab collab

Getting together to meet a final time has proved elusive. I emailed my colleague and his response was, "Nice job, a lot of work." To be honest I was hoping to hear critical feedback about how to improve the unit, the sample, the teaching, or anything. I don't want to push him for more help in an already over-booked season. So, I am going to trust that it is okay and when we roll it out in the fall, we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

second lifing it

Wow. I am now a member of Second Life. I am using my Dominican name. Amalia. And I think Second Life is nuts after being in a world for two minutes. It is not student safe. I would not put my students in Second Life! Not after my first attempt!

I need to figure out a safe world to learn in and for my students to learn in.

Monday, May 4, 2009

highlight of today

Early in the year I launched a campaign to inform students of how to eat healthier foods and to connect them with the foods they eat. We drew a huge map and we color in the origins of our fruit that we eat regularly. I did cooking units with two classes. There has been discussion throughout the year about healthy food.

Today got to the heart of the matter. In passing last week had mentioned composting. One of my seniors lit up like a 100 watt bulb. "We did that at my summer job!" Today at lunch she found me and asked me to guide her in crafting a proposal to implement a composting program at our school.

Uh, YES. YESSSSS. Yes I will help. The power of student-led change is amazing. Her enthusiasm was contagious. "I want to leave a legacy," she said. "I want to start something that is good for everyone."

Something that is good for everyone. Today is one of those days I love my job.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

TPACK 12--In-Service teachers

This final chapter of TPACK addresses how current, in-service teachers can develop strategies for integrating technology into pedagogy.

I was especially pleased to see the comparison between playing jazz and teaching, because it validates the practice of most experienced teachers. Knowing the melody is one thing, being able to riff and improvise takes experience. I think it is the same with teachers. I spent a good three years of the early career just learning how to play....and with time I have learned when to improvise.

Harris gives a basic definition of technology integration: "The pervasive and productive use of educational technologies for purposes of curriculum-based learning and teaching." I don't agree 100% with this definition because there is a need to clarify "educational technologies"--in my mind, it is ANY technology that serves me as a teacher. For example, social media is not designed with formal education in mind, yet it is invaluable to teach language. So, I want to clarify that for me, technology does not have have a label on it that declares it "educational." Glogster is another platform that was not designed for student learning yet is consistently utilized by students to present work done for school.

Based on my last semester course, I was prepared to hear that teacher usage ranges from productivity tools to mindtools. I would say this is the same breakdown as this semester's type I vs. type II technologies. Some technologies are used to be more productive, to organize data, etc, and some technologies are used to work at the higher level of Bloom's. Makine a movie, for example, is a higher level of cognition than using Google to make a calendar. However, these tools can and should work together--because making that Google calendar as a production timeline for making the movie allows one tool to help the user properly use the other tools to make meaning.

Something that really struck me was that Harris states that "teachers need curriculum-related content knowledge to do their jobs effectively" (254). Once that is in place, then the technological component can be maximized. I like what Gunter and Baumbach call "integration literacy". What tool, for what purpose, to what end?

When integrating the technological component, understanding the culture is essential. This makes it a wicked problem with no clearly defined overarching rules of integration. Basically each teacher, each class, is unique. Teachers need to be given the support necessary to develop content-specific technology integrated units. Because in-service teacher generally have more expertise than novice teachers, the integration approach can and should be different!

Activity structures were an interesting concept to read about and I hope that there is a taxonomy out there for modern languages because I know that I do several types of structures and I would like to see them defined and validated. Activity structures are "cultural tools that perpetuate and standardize interaction patterns" (257). Again, I need to review what I do and write it down and compare with a taxonomy.

I really enjoyed the BNIE concept of activity structures, which includes Bid, Negotiate, Instantiate, and Evaluate. To me this is student centered learning.

It is important, also, for content area teachers to develop a common language for activity structures. This will improve literacy as well.

When examining the chart on page 260, I identified 9 structures that are current in my classroom. Wow!

The last point I want to address is that adults learn differently than students and often must know "up front" the why behind the learning expected, in this case, why integrate technology. I again want to refer to the video posted in April about what kids want from us. They want us to guide them in their learning and they learn collaboratively, creatively, and with technologies that we struggle to keep up with. But, I believe we must make the effort as adults to reach kids where they are, socially and culturally. And for today, that means using technology to share, present, reflect, and re-do.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Today teamed up with colleagues and administration to train on iWalkthrough, a data-collection technique done with iTouches to record a variety of observable happenings in classes. It was a great training, and I learned a lot about my perceptions of the value of teaching to the top of Bloom's. I learned, for example, that scaffolding is often at the lower end of the hierarchy, and that is necessary, and okay! I also learned, and this was sort of like, DUH, but I learned that (personally) downtime in a classroom is OKAY. You know? 80 minutes is a long time to be on.

Great quote from last year comes to mind. "Kids might not remember what you say, but they remember how you make them feel." As I learn to collect this date, and infer what it means, I think I will learn a lot about different styles of teaching and learning.

In other news, we got the May calendars today. May calendars are always jam-packed full of stuff. And May just leads to June, and graduation, and the end of the year. I love this time of year, not because of a desire to countdown, but because life is full of promise and kids are full of ideas and energy. Channeling all that is the task at hand. I am trying.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

highlight of today

It's Tuesday, post-vacation.

Someone last block says, "I wish we could make movies for the end project to see how much we've grown."

Grow is my power verb this year and I have asked these kids to stretch themselves out of these textbook ideas and into the world of their own voices. Hearing someone ask for creative power made me say, YES!


Here is a movie that will blow anyone's mind. Done by MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS. AT the 1.31 mark I got shivers and actually teared up.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

many eyes!

Check out this awesome visualization!

using hypermedia as a mindtool

I took a class at George Mason when I taught in Virginia. The class was Teaching with Technology. We did hyperstacks as projects and I remember loving the project and enjoying making it so much. We also created webquests, but mine was lame. My hyperstack was a real artifact. It was about Simon Bolivar!

Anyway, my Mindtools chapter on hypermedia was a great read. Here are my chapter 11 notes.

The first thing that struck me is that my use of wikis is essentially hypermedia. So, that is great, because wikis are free. There is a share it/embed culture that makes hypermedia possible.

Hypermedia is multimodal. Hyper is non-linear. Yet, hypermedia has structure, sequence. The idea of nodes that are connected reminds me very much of connectivism, and the power of connected nodes.

Access is tied to relevance. Think Wikipedia and a dynamic, growing knowledge base.

User autonomy because the user chooses the sequence of access. There is choice, affordance, and synthesis.

Here is the exciting part about hypermedia learning. The model is based on knowledge as design. Constructing understanding is better than interpreting a teacher's understanding. I love this!

Ownership is the key to constructivism.

Reflective learners name what they know, and that is powerful...reflect!

p. 221 has great assessment/refleciton questions. How will you organize, why? How will you decide on what to include and what to leave out? Can you draw a map of the flow of your program and is it logical? Which stories do you want to include, and what do they represent? Which are the most important themes in describing your content? How did you determine that they were most important?

When evaluating the product, keep in mind: project management skills, research skills, organization and representation skills, presentation skills, and reflection skills.

The chapter breaks down the hierarchy of thinking skills for creating hypermedia, and not surprisngly, organizing and designing the presenation requires the most complex thinking skills. Yay, Bloom's!

The rubric on page 227 is great and I plan on using it, or an adaptation, to assess final portfolios this year. The points include:

Accuracy of information in nodes
Represenation of information in nodes
Quality of media representations
Links are meaningful and descriptive
Screen design
Nodes organized in meaningful, informative structures
Purpose of knowledge base clear to user

OK, the cosntraints of knowledge building with hypermedia? IT TAKES TIME. Boy do I feel that this year as projects are drawn out and students, some, lose focus. It does take time and having standards for final portfolios will hopefully make all this time worth it.

Source citation for this reflection:


Jonassen, D.H. (1996). Computers as mindtools for schools (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Defines Mindtools concept and critical thinking. Includes information on semantic organization tools, dynamic modeling tools, interpretation tools and knowledge building tools.


Margaret Niess "the twenty first century literate citizen" (225).


First, twenty first century implies the next hundred years of education. It's forward-thinking. But no one can predict the future exactly...So what does this mean for preservice teachers forming a philosophy of "the twenty first century literate citizen"?

-A capacity to predict and accept failure as part of the learning process

-A continual analysis of cognition in the form of reflection

-An ability to share/network with a large group of learners, peers, and experts

These three ideas can be applied vertically (pre-k-12) and are adaptable, by necessity!

Literacy. The idea of being literate. What does it mean today and what will it mean tomorrow?

it's the ability to communicate, today. People communicate across multiple platforms and multiple age groups, by texting, calling, twittering, skyping, blogging, you name it. People are talking. Each of these forms of communication requires some form of expertise in a language that the computer understands. It's understanding how programs work and function. This type of program knowledge varies, but without it, no one could communicate!

My brother tells me often when I ask him an inane question--"It's designed for the average user--look how many people are selling things out of their garage on E-bay." When I hear that something is designed for the average user, I am inspired to explore the platform further. The idea is to allow people to connect, communicate, and share. Make it easy.

Literacy is more than reading and writing. It's experience applied to new experience. That needs to be the focus when switching gears from last century to this. Designers, creators, explorers of knowledge.

Citizen is the last big idea. This is so staggeringly important a concept for the preservice teacher to understand. The role of teacher has not changed in the last hundred years. The teachers are still the role models. Not becoming familiar with the digital planets that students inhabit is akin to never learning a second language when surrounded by people who speak it. Students need teachers to be role models. They need teachers to understand the culture of their online worlds in safe, constructionist environments. Protocol, etiquette, expectations, consequences for online language, behavior, etc. Preservice teachers must feel the urgency to train students when they are online to protect their offline lives.

How does TPACK address the idea of a twenty first century literate citizen? The models are to approach pre-service individual content areas in order to design learning in a way that is declarative, procedural, schematic, and strategic.


Preservice teachers should be asked to


Pre-service teachers need time to practice their ideas and then reflect on the experiences.

Preservice teachers need to be exposed to a diverse population of learners in order to fully grasp the scope of their chosen vocation. There are many types of learners, and analyzing how different learners communicate their ideas is essential. It removes the preservice teacher from the terrible sin of teaching to how he/she best learned.

Every preservice teacher should be exposed to multiple cultures. It will imprint them that diversity is a grand plan. This exposure is simplified with the tools defined as literacy above--the tools of communication and connectivity. Social media is a natural, communicative literacy that, when examined by the preservice teacher, reveals how students think.

The trick is to tease out of them (the learners) what they learned in the interaction and figure out what they need to make sense of it. Expect failure, remember.

It's tricky.

In the TPACK model, preservice teachers begin to think in nonlinear ways. They will develop a sense of forward motion, as opposed to marching down a path to knowledge. Real learning doesn't work that way. The ideas that come out of natural communication are pure ideas, and when they are examined, discussed, refined, and reflected upon...citizens are formed. That is education. Allowing the ideas to present themselves, seriously wicked problems!

Preservice teachers, when designing learning units, need to think about


Preservice teachers need to develop an effective toolkit, management strategies, etc. Pe preventive rather than reactive. Predict failure. Have a plan B.

Preservice teachers need field experiences...to try things out and reflect on how things can be improved.

Preservice teachers need to shift content from published data to constant creation of a stream of communication, and learning culture.

Personally, my preservice teaching was nil, except for three summers at a migrant camp with the preschoolers--so my first three years of teaching were very stressful as I tried to find my way...moving home to Maine was the best technology step I ever took.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

friday community service

For the third week straight, it was Friday detention duty. I asked for it. Some of the same people showed. Some new faces. I made a plan way earlier and put it into action.

"Report to Mr. S, grab gloves and bags. It is seventy out, it is Friday, and I am not going to sit around....if you are in report back in 8 minutes."


12 of the darlings came back and we drew a map on my board of the grounds, and I made some rules--no swearing, 100 feet of me and in sight, and if they are good and cover all the ground, I will let them out early.

So...we did it. We picked trash. I mostly used my Blackberry to catch up on random stuff, and they picked trash.

And someone came and joined us, not in detention, because he was bored and it was nice out. That did wonders for the morale.

Teams were practicing. Kids were on bikes. My crew had a plan and a teacher who stayed about 98 feet far away to keep it from being too uncool.

We finished 20 minutes before 4. I had them wash up. We talked about Dixfield's trash. I made all but one write me a short essay on heroes. The one that did not wrote a beautiful essay the Friday before and I was not going to make him do it twice. Instead I made him water my plants.

Something beautiful happened.

The super came in.

He said, "THANK YOU for your service to our school."

Not a word about detention, or punishment, or the fact that some of these guys can't seem to make it to class on time. Just a thank you.

Every single kid left smiling. I sat down and banged out my lit review, inspired by organized labor of the sort that just transpired. No fighting, no pleading. Choice on a sunny Friday. Do good, or come again next week.

Yeah....I love Friday detentions. Because of moments when I read, "My hero is my father. He always makes time for me." Or, "My hero is my mom. She listens to me." Or even, "My hero is my older brother. He is the only one that is cool to me." And one sappy sort: "Ms. Beane is awesome. She gets us." And my favorite. "My hero is my grandmother. She has been caring for a disabled son for 36 years. That inspires me."

Oh, I love Friday detentions. I really do. The end results usually make it worth it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

dream in color

Dream in Color is a Scholastic.com site that includes digital story-telling, cultural heritage, and is "A celebration of the rich history and heritage of the diverse communities that make up our world."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

a cause for celebration

My professor received my work: lit review, research proposal, and concentration essay. On review he said I am "there" and to "relax and enjoy vacation" because he is "proud"...of me! I am so thankful to have had understanding professors this year. It took me THREE TRIES to get this review right. I was also dealing with extraneous issues last semester such as the untimely death of a friend, a move to a new home, a break-up, etc etc not to mention the double-duty I pulled early in the year as a French AND Spanish teacher as well as interpreting duties for a special case. A lot on my plate on top of two grad level course. Now that it is done I feel like I can speak about what prevented it from being done on time.

PHEW....I made it...I finished my EDU582 class in time. Now to finish EDU569...just a few blog entries there. And then I can focus fully on EDU583, a course I really love, because it is all about designing units using backward design and TPCK. Stuff that seems to come naturally, yet I am challenged, too--which feels so good!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Thanks to my brother, my edublog now has its own domain!

Please re-direct your readers and links to http://ms.beane.org

¡Gracias hermano!

me and my bro2

Monday, April 13, 2009

ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

Guess what! It's lit review wrap-up week! Can I get a heck yes!

Not only that but Modern Media is shaping up into a nice looking "thing". Not a portfolio yet--so many gaps and missing pieces--but when I go in to speak with the dean I want to show the continuity of the program.

This April break will be well-earned, let me tell ye.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

wonderful week

There is so much to talk about this week. It was the first week of the new quarter, the last quarter. For some kids the last quarter is a "slow down" or "review" of materials...but in Spanish it's the hardest quarter. All the play, all the exploring, all the ideas and products that have been batted around, produced, presented...now it is time to bring it all together and make sense of it. I think that a long time of "play" in the language takes away most of the fear of "learning grammar". It is hard to learn grammar from a worksheet but play with it, see it, use it without penalty for a long time...and now let's see what we know about it.

So...freshmen and sophomores...doing the Integrated Performance Assessment on Diversity Day. I learned about the IPA at FLAME and have gone into it full-throttle with the kids. And...guess what!!! They are making sense of a senior level essay bit by bit and it makes sense to them! I heard squeals of delight this week, ah ha's, I got it, wow this makes sense. As much as possible in the interpretive portion of the task, I am modeling my own cognition of the material because I want them to see how I make the connections. Of course, I make the connections naturally because I have acquired this language to a great degree, but I am backing up and pointing out how and why I connect the dots.

Something else...instead of circle time like we usually have, I have been having each class of freshmen and sophomores gather round my teacher desk as if it were a campfire. I assemble the kids so they are right in front of me and practically elbow-to-elbow. Some kids are not keen on this and they are on the edges, which is fine with me. But there are some kids who eagerly sit not two feet from me, faces smiling, ready for this type of attention. We do interpretive tasks (without penalty for wrong answers) and then I model the interpretation and give the "correct" answers. Kids are so happy when they get something right!

I am using graphic organizers like crazy and requiring them to b bring all their notes each time. To motivate them we have started a 100% club on the board. Everyone there, all the pieces of the IPA there, something to write with. Get it all ten times in a row and I will gladly bake you all some cupcakes.

My sophomores, with slightly more experience, are having different conversations than the freshmen. They love that this is social and collaborative and not graded. (The graded task is the third task--so tons of scaffolding!)

My juniors have been kicking butt with their cooking units. They all did so well with the framework and scaffolding. I have to thank E. from my senior class for this. She developed a packet that laid it all out step by step--this was her midterm project. The kids have been using her framework to make sense of it and they will all cook this last quarter. They too will do the IPA and will also watch a film this quarter, so it is packed to the gills.

It's my seniors that REALLY MADE ME SMILE this week. I cannot believe the joy they bring me, the depths of their conversations with me. This week--get this--ALL OF MY KIDDOS spoke to me IN SPANISH with a wonderful degree of fluency and confidence. I cannot take credit for this, but I will say that when I introduced their final project, I basically told them how very proud I was of them, how wonderful and unique each of them are, and how intelligent and how creative they have shown themselves to be over and over and over.

The final project? They have to create a framework for a final product and presentation of their choice. Six weeks work time, one week presentation time, and the last two weeks of finals and pomp and circumstance will be when I celebrate them! Having R., from Venezuela, gives us a great excuse to party and celebrate.

Each student came up with wonderful ideas...and when they realized it could be ANYTHING, just through the lens of Spanish language, they took off with these ideas. And they are revising as they go.

To date:
A family album, including ancient real estate records, of one camp on Webb Lake and how it has cemented a family's experiences over the years. (Sitting with A. as she sparkled and glowed and spoke about each picture she brought in made me feel so good inside--she is so invested in this project).

In a similar vein, another presentation will be about family and how camp time brings them all together and has strengthened them as a family. Listen, Maine camps are where it is at! This project as well as the preceding one are to be presented as gifts to their families after graduation...gives me shivers.

A blog detailing a first generation college student's struggle to find the resources and do the steps to get to where she wants to go in life. (Tears were shed as she explained her struggle to me, and I just told her again and again and again, you have what it takes. You can do it. Your story will help others like you.)

A script, taken and translated from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to be performed with a sophomore. (This kiddo loves to translate and act and his partner as well. Sure to be hilarious.)

An slide-show about Arizona, but more importantly, the effect a grandma's love had on her granddaughter. (I feel so proud of this project because she keeps making deeper and deeper connections.)

One brave soul is going to write a scene from a telenovela! Her research keeps cracking us up as she shares out in class all the craziness that surrounds this art form.

R., from Venezuela, is doing a compare/contrast...so valuable for him to look at Maine and Venezuela and understand the differences. Having him in class gives me such joy because he truly understands both places now, as I do. And I can make him laugh in an instant, just because we speak the same language and the same slang.

E., so quiet, is doing a presentation on the Italian opera, and she is going to SING. Yay!!!

And M., my chef, is going to do experimental cuisine based on the cuisine of Spain. Yes, her product will be food. She wanted to do sooo much and keeps narrowing her focus more and more. I know the final product will be worthy of a magazine spread.

So, a wonderful week. Connections, and deep meanings. Everyone working hard and feeling a degree of success.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TPACK chapter 8 ART

Link to Stacey's TPCK

Link to Cindy's TPCK

My comments below are reactions to the presentations by my colleagues, above.

Give the students tools to find their voices. How this resonates with me!

One of the beautiful things about student wikis is how creative they become on their site. The colors, the logos, all of it becomes individualized.

Creativity and intellectual curiosity. These two 21st century skills are at the top of my list of what to teach. This is followed by interpersonal and collaborative skills. In my room, there is a community dynamic. Kids help each other and I help them. Self-direction is hard to draw out because too often kids come to me having been spoon-fed a curriculum, a series of questions, answers, and tests...education wrapped up with a bow and put in a box. However, I do draw it out by making my lessons student-centered and holding them accountable. Social responsibility is a big one--I liken this skill to connectivist nodes. "Don't be a useless node! Make the network stronger! Make the room smarter!" When I explain what connectivism is, and how we use the theory in my room, kids start to "get it". When we all work together and put our heads together we can do amazing, powerful stuff. Communication and information and media literacy skills go hand in hand in my room. We are making meaning, we are sharing knowledge. We are communicating at a very basic level to start but eventually the process is refined through experience and kids begin to acquire language patterns that allow them to express themselves.

The areas in which I am weak are accountability and adaptability and critical thinking and systems thinking. I have due dates, deadlines...but tend to give my kids incompletes instead of F's...wanting them to do the work instead of cutting them off from it. I also find that I cover too much culture as opposed to a deeper form of analysis.

I started my career as an art teacher, so this chapter spoke volumes to me. I teach Spanish a lot like I taught art. There is process, there is product. There is presentation. There is feedback. What they make with language is like art, to me. It is representative of their thoughts, ideas, knowledge, dreams. In art, learning is a process of self discovery. Again, replace art with any content area, it should be the same! Students become invested when they are waking up to the world of ideas inside of themselves.

Give students the tools to find their voices. YES. YES. YES.

Ok, now I am going to go on a rant. It is on design. As an art teacher turned Spanish teacher, and once and only English teacher (remedial seventh grade English), and yearbook teacher--much of what students produce needs refinement of design. Take the Fibonacci sequence that I mentioned in my math post. The Fibonacci sequence implies a "divine design" or a "perfect" aesthetic. Take the rule of thirds in photography--never center a subject, leave room for the eye to find it, leave room for the brain to wander and make a connection. Take a bleed in photography--let that photo go the edge of the page. Don't trap white space. The mind interprets art much better when design principles are applied! And when making a powerpoint, try and make it image-driven, and pick powerful images! The cortex processes images better than words! Use that powerful concept to get the message across.

Students of the arts inevitably receive a wide range of opportunities to express the multiple forms of intelligence as identified by Gardner. I really see the arts as integral to my content area. Not just "art" but movement, music, etc. It all ties in with Spanish as a language, and Spanish-speaking cultures. Note: how come Gardner does not have a culinary intelligence? One of my students just piped up: "Woolly mammoth kabobs!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TPACK ch 9 Science

When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it is tied to everything else in the universe.

John Muir (1838-1914) U. S. naturalist, explorer.
Science is not formal logic–
it needs the free play of the mind in as great a degree as any other creative art.
It is true that this is a gift which can hardly be taught,
but its growth can be encouraged in those who already posses it.

Max Born (1882-1970) German Physicist. Nobel Prize, 1954.

Reading this chapter, I am struck by the fact that science and teaching science implies that people will use technological tools in their studies. It is not enough to learn about a microscope, you get to actually use one! It is a tool for a purpose! I love this.
I also love how science embraces technology to simulate events or conditions that may not be easily understood in "real life" or else impossible to simulate. This allows people to see and experience a scientific phenomenon without having to "be there".

One of the most striking sentences in this chapter was on page 198: Using something new means risking failure. YES. We as teachers cannot model that we are afraid to fail. It is often more educational for our students to watch us as teachers process and learn something new, because it models for them that we are not born experts, we are humans, capable of error, and capable of error correction. Anticipating how to use technology is hard and calls on teachers' knowledge in many different ways. YES. It requires us to start at zero and build...much like we require of our students. Teachers need to mine their own internal resources--their knowledge of science, of students, and of pedagogy--to anticipate and prepare for what will likely happen when the technology is used. YES. Take out science, insert any content area. Activate the schema, trust yourself as an educator, push through the barrier of the "unknown" and work with your students to make it the "known".

Some great tips for making the unknown the known:
  • Give them time to play with the technology
  • Teach about the technology ahead of time (frontload)
  • Identify possible fail points, anticipate them, and reassure the students that this may happen and it is ok
  • Make the learning space a place where it is ok to try it out, learn about it, and share

One of the most powerful moments of my first semester this year was at the end of the movie project...when I had the kids all add their new-found expertise to a wiki called tutorials. All of their hard work learning the technology was validated and they use this space as a reference. My students were empowered, and they each contributed something to the wiki. They owned the fact that it was hard to learn all these apps and programs to make a movie...but they did it.

One more really good thread from the chapter: understanding student misconceptions is essential to adjusting teaching practices. In other words, you know what they don't know and that is a dynamic that changes with every class. Understanding where to "fix" the errors is the true teaching...not covering content or slogging through a chapter, but finding those misconceptions and dealing with them.

There are so many possible errors, and so many possible tools to use. The assumption is the teacher will never stop learning. I like that. The assumption is that we need to not be afraid of the unknown, and modeling how we come to know is essential. The assumption is we as teachers need that pre-service modeling of not being afraid of technology and we as teachers need master teachers to model for us. YES.

Link to Rhonda's reflection.

Link to Jake's reflection.

TPACK Ch 7 Mathematics

Einstein: "My mind is my laboratory."

Confession: I am afraid of math. However I LOVE the idea of fractals! My brother plays with fractals a lot, and the evidence of fractals in nature is just my cup of tea.

So, how do math teachers make decisions about tech? I liked the idea of an "as needed" basis--give the power to the teacher to know when to use the programs available.

I like the human element in math. That is what makes sense for me. I can do my taxes. I can make a garden bed. I can design a room. This basic investigation of pattern and relationships makes perfect sense to me. For me, visualisation is essential.

That is what a good math teacher porbably does: makes patterns and relationships "real" or "evident". Imaginative openness. I like that a lot.

Click here for Kim's reaction.

Click here for Lisa's reaction.

Monday, March 23, 2009

fab collab

Session 2 of meeting with my colleague. The student sample is due next week. Based on his input I will make a movie that shows the equipment, uniform, safety, and basic skills of a physical activity. The example we discussed was snowboarding. He gave the framework for the storyboard when he explained how he would teach it. He also drew on the board which helped me visualize that kids can use maps of plays, and moves, to help illustrate their activity.

I am still looking for a good model video and it must be out there. Unless...I am the one to make it. Being an idealist can sometimes be time-consuming.

I was wicked stressed about the video part for a week. One computer is in the shop. This one I am on now has Windows Movie Maker. It is easy to use. I shot a video blog tonight and am figuring it out. So now I am not so stressed. I have a storyboard, and I talked to an expert. He's going to help me with the actual day, too--by letting me take over the gym. This makes me feel much better. He also agreed to use the Tandberg unit to have conversations throughout the year.

So, all in all, a great meeting. Looking at my notes, I have everything I need now to make a student sample. It will be on snowboarding. That is the activity I am going to model.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This was recommend on Teachers.Net as a good level 2/3 literature text.

k-6 literacy education TPACK ch. 3

It is our responsibility to teach kids to read.

This sticks out to me. As a k-12 teacher. As in, I accept it as my role for every grade. And I teach Spanish! That does not matter. If a kid cannot read in my room, that becomes the focus for me as their teacher. Everything else can follow.

How, when, why? to use technology to teach literacy. Great questions, and I feel I can answer them as they apply to my content!

Teacher preparation can vary...widely. My own preparation came not at the hands of an undergraduate ed. department, but in the field: Maine Migrant School (three years), Christian Fellowship School (three years), and then back to Maine and the public school and I began formal classes. One tech, one methods, one sped...you name it...I took them one by one.

But really the teacher training came from watching excellent teachers and modeling after them. And that is what I think should happen in teacher training programs: a true apprenticeship to a series of master teachers.

The focus has changed from reading traditional paper based text to reading multiple renditions of text--on the screen, on the phone, on the Leapfrog! Technology avails media-rich texts to all ages. Therefore, processing and reading strategies also change. How hard it is for teachers to adjust? I've said it before...our current crop of near-retirees have that solid, traditional, reading and writing pedagogy down. However, I have seen it again and again: fear. Fear when faced with the unknown, the new. My mother is a prime example. (She was my teacher for years, the first and the best!) She now has a blog, a web shop, Twitter, and Facebook! It onl took us 8 years...but now she is not afraid. And she is closer to 70 than 60. So I know it can be done but it takes time. And in her case, investment with return. (She sells her products mostly to people in Ireland, Japan, and other far away islands...)

I love how the chapter says that literacy is a moving target that must be re-defined constantly. Wicked problem again! But so true. How do we get kids to interpret, how can we activate schema, or create schema for them? It takes a creative, dynamic, flexible facilitator to have words make sense, but to go back a step, to have LETTERS make sense and SOUNDS make sense.

The value of developing a continuum really struck me. What is this magical framework and how can we apply it to each kid? I detest the benchmark testing but I want to know what they know...how hard it is to develop a continuum for each student. I wonder if I need to do something in Spanish from levels 1-4 and have that in place.

Also valuable: "reading, writing, and oral language develop concurrently and interdependently from and early age from children's exposure to interactions in social context." This is really how I try to teach Spanish language. Socially, in groups, lots of practice, lots of laughter.

How to create environments where students are MOTIVATED to learn? I try. Plants, tables instead of desks, which sometimes get shoved out of the way. Circle time weekly, share outs, everyone has their picture on the wall. The idea is: this is YOUR space to learn and place. I asked for bean bag chairs for net year. Food, healthy food, is a major theme. The idea is come, relax, be. Create, share, reflect, learn. Audience. Make the learning "invisible"--no circle tests.

Facilitating social interactions when teaching reading and writing is quite easy with technology...we use Wordles, wikis, blogs to share and reflect.

We use cameras, video, digital. We make stories. We talk about ourselves.

Chapter 4 TPACK

The days run away like wild horses running over the hills...

This chapter really hit home with me with the idea that technology needs to be taught in tandem with content. (I think the same of Spanish...it needs to be taught as a language, yes--but a language of what? To do things with! Not endless worksheets but movies, poetry, art critiques.)

A nice continuum of describing an English teacher: sequence curriculum, choose texts, use frameworks to understand content. How can teachers use tech to help students engage in learning? There are so many changes in tools--yet luckily the canon does not change--so teachers need to be prepared to roll with the changes as they make curricular choices. This can be scary for non-TPCK people to come to terms with. The fact that student engagement these days is firmly rooted in multimedia, and that students are expected to be digitally literate, implies that teachers must also understand the power of digital media and digital literacy.

How does this translate to teacher training? First, develop training programs where tech is integrated (much like this course!) Focus on content-area specific tech integration skills and MOST IMPORTANTLY create spaces and opportunities for pre-service teachers to observe and experience the "blurring between, intersection and integration of [content]-specific technological, pedagogical, an content knowledge." (p.91)

Now, my mentor teacher in the earlier days did not teach with technology, but she was an excellent model for me. I watched her interact with students and learned a lot about the teacher-role for a teenager. She never lied to her kids about anything. "I think you are just being lazy," she would say. And that kid would nod and agree. No cajoling, no pleading. She failed a lot of kids the first quarter and met with every single parent and explained to them: "Look, you want your kid to be able to read and write?" When kids crawled out of the very depths of hell, those forties and fifties of the first quarter, and ultimately earning 80's and 90's by the fourth quarter....well, the proof was there. She was an excellent, strict, funny, honest, brilliant teacher. I digress from technology but the point is she was GOOD and I had ACCESS to her. More pre-service teachers need more ACCESS to REALLY GOOD MASTER TEACHERS.

(I often come away from grad class with an idea that has been modeled in the class. Not explicitly taught but modeled.)

Much has been said about "on-line" learning or distance learning, and the idea that this is how pre-service should learn about tech is off. I agree that face-to-face is key. Whenever I train teachers on how to set up wikis or Flickr, I always request a chat session. It is not as good as face to face but it is live Q and A time and often I can walk the teachers through the steps necessary to do what needs to be done for their technology projects. Live help is essential. Live support is essential. As Meg pointed out, she needed help last week, and where was Mr. Tech Man? There aren't enough Tech Mans to do the job of support, therefore teachers should be helping each other. This ties in with what happened last week with the shut down of the override password. Five teachers called me in the first hour of class to find out what to do. I had no answer because NO ONE had informed me that my override was defunct. Frustrating, yes--but--we happen to have handy, accessible Tech Guys and passwords were soon re-distributed. Empower more people, I say--give more tech power to teachers, train us on the tech-y side! TRUST US.

Reading about mutli-genre project--it struck me that it was not very student-centered and that is really important to me.

ACCESS to content-specific hardware and software is major! I love free tools but invest in some paid ones, too. There is great stuff out there and it takes curious, motivated, forward thinking types to sniff out these new things, try them, vet them, ask for them in classrooms.

There needs to be a digital media lending library--and I think we have sufficient tools in my school, although the cataloguing and distribution could be improved--but the library should have lots and lots of tools that students can use to make, create, edit, produce, plan, present.

There needs to be modeling, transparency, dialog among teachers. Classrooms should be flung wide open and observed. There needs to be a challenge to the "way things have always been". I am not saying to throw out the novel and the teacher who reads to his class as they sit, rapt, before him--think Mr. N.--I am just saying let the teachers talk and share and expect this culture in school, and expect that there will be technology that is effective in making meaning out of English! Let there be cognitive challenges! I learn, you learn, we all learn differently.

The two case studies were quite interesting. The first one really reminds me of the typical questions on my teacher message board. "I need resources on...I would like pictures of...someone share a movie with me..." My response is: why aren't the students looking for this content? If you are studying Spanish artists, don't lay them out on a platter for the students to ooh, ahh, yawn over....make it their project. Ask essential questions and let them find the answers, hammer them out. In a sense, this technology use (as presentational or ancillary) is useful but not really. The second case study is much more dynamic. There is a motivated teacher who sees how non-linear environments can show meaning among texts. What a powerful idea--and one she saw could be represented sans tech, but made so much easier by using tech!

Note: teacher 2 was motivated, saw the value, had assistance, and worked through even though she didn't master the software immediately. She plowed through it. When you plow through a field, things do tend to grow. The focus was not on the tool but the content and how the tool organized it. In the end, her project was incredibly powerful and student-centered! She adjusted as she went to include the tech components as part of her literacy plan.

So, where is this magical tipping point for teacher culture? Honestly, in the next 15 years, as digital natives appear in teacher training programs as a matter of course, the youth will simply tip us in the right direction. And it will take current youngsters like myself to grow old with TPCK in order to train the digital natives.

There is still a great gap in how teachers integrate technology. Time will help fix this. Time and people like our cohort.

Friday, March 13, 2009

blogging FLAME

Today is FLAME in Portland. Foreign Language Association of Maine. A rather unfortunate moniker...foreign is not my favorite word.

First session: the sins of slide shows are evident. Some horrible graphics. I hate to be critical but image-driven slides should contain worthy images. I am looking at a rainbow of bad design.

Sigh. Focus on the content...I am trying. The intro is lasting way too long and there is no interaction. Instructionism....ugh. Actually I just raised my hand and asked a question. This is important to me: dialog.

Finally some good stuff. #9 rainbow slide. Coping!

cultural immersion
educated guesses

-- I like this. It implies coping is OKAY. I tell my students this too. They are perfectionists...they want to do things perfectly. Sorry guys...I would like to speak Spanish perfectly as well...and I have been doing it for 17 years. So...yeah.

Like Zach's learn-programming-in-ten-years spiel.

Create an artificial environment. Simulation.

The idea of being rooted is the value here.

Use your imaginatio and ake a real-life situation!

This session is improving. I am forgiving the rainbows.

Teach the course "on-location" for the whole year.

Real language
Unlimited cultural contexts
Visual, senses, creativity, imagination
UNifies all elements
teaches world skills

personal relaity show
all engaged
create own worlds
see language through their eyes
can't get voted off

Take a flight
Move into a hotel--wow she has some great props here
Find an apartment
Invent neighbors
Represent the city layout
Map drills

THis session gave me lots of good ideas.

Session BThis session is being presented by the ladies of the MDI ML dept.


Keep the activities REAL to the kids.

Easier to differentiate. YES.

ALlows for creativity.

Living curriculum that changes every year.

Want to focus more on concepts of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

OK...love the graphic organizers...but don't see a big diff between a textbook with some of their stuff.

The growth portfolio concept is interesting. Not all pieces are asssessed. Have to do a common error sheet. Lots of self-reflection.

I like reflecting on errors.

Session C

Integrated Performance Assessment -- This is how I will "fix" the Spanish 2 midterm project.....

Scaffolding spoken language skills in reluctant speakers

Casco Bay High School uses an expeditionary model. Interdiscplinary model.

IPA is interpretive. Reading and or listening.

Pick a theme.
Find/create text to support that theme
Scaffold the text appropriately for your class
Have students work independently on the interpretive task

Interpersonal. Person to person, small group to small group.

Identify two characters/voices from the text or theme
Assign partner groups and a character voicer to each partner
Give 3-8 minutes (15-20) for students to prepare for their role (take notes, script)
Call time on character prep. Use what you've got!!
Practice multiple times...and switch roles

Presentational. Prepared and performed.

It is here that students make corrections to fluency and pronunciation and grammar.
Identify a final assessment task that pertais to the theme
De-construct the presentational rubric (see actfl) (have kids re-write in kid-friendly language)
Have students perform for the class and assess each other


How does it work? In presenter's opinion, so much scaffolding. Specific task, clear framework. bility to reference notes in preparation for speaking. Different levels of memorization required.


Great energy in this session. Presenter is young, digital native.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

classroom management

My style is derived from the way I was raised, as a part of a larger whole, with a specific purpose. My kids are challenged to create a healthy community. Really, there are only a few Big Ideas here.

Their job: Respect, Responsibility
My job: Routine, Reassurance

Never give up on a kid.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Backward Design--Collaboration Check

This a.m. finally connected with my colleague who is co-designing the unit for next fall. We virtually conferenced using FirstClass chatting. I sent him the links to the integrated unit planner, stage 1, and stage 2.

Turns out he didn't need to look at stage 2. He helped by explaining the vocabulary necessary to understand the standards of his content area.

The unit I have developed with his assistance pairs my high school Spanish students with his elementary students to learn new skills (physical skills) through a cultural lens (Spanish-speaking countries).

In a related nore...My colleague in Santiago proposed a wonderful service project for next year's trip to the DR. Check out the proposal so far. I have images to go along with the proposal, thanks to my student helper Jill. Gracias Jillybean!

The proposal? Team Dirigo kids with Dominican kids in a week long judo school....

Chapter 6 Social Studies

It's a wicked problem. Social studies. It comprises where we come from, what we've done...and it (literally: social studies) involves a lot of research. How to make that fun?

Teach from the top of the revised Bloom's. CREATE.

My professor recently shared this site and it explains HOW.

There is this issue of standards...since social studies comprises so many different disciplines. I wonder about this myself. We talk about this in our literacy meetings. Are there power verbs that comprise the standards that we can use across the board in every class? (Look at Bloom's).

Love how it points out that on-line sources are often unsorted, uncatalogued, and poorly arranged. This makes finding legit info HARD. Looking up stuff ahead of time is key...don't send the kids on a wild goose chase. Narrow it down a bit and use the time well. Develop a context for the identification of resources is good advice.

I like the pedagogical actions that are explained, esp. extending and promoting active and authentic forms of human interaction in technology enabled social networks and expand social experiences using technology. If it is one thing I wish I could magically have in my classroom it is social interaction among diverse groups.

Non-linear learning is evident in TPACK social studies. The availability of information allows the user to pick and choose. In a sense, it allows the use to follow their own paths to understanding. Experts may disagree that this is a valid way of studying history but it is what is happening informally all the time. I want to learn about the history of Zambia, I tart with a search, I end up down the garden path an hour later, caught up in a minor story about a minor tribe...my sense of Zambia is expanded, and it may not be textbook but it is informed.

How can students develop critical media skills to find their way through the messiness of the internet? This is a great question! I wonder this myself, daily! I find that I have to read and qualify multiple drafts for students before I can accept their research as valid. Indeed, it is a sophisticated and systematic literary approach. It is slow and tedious to teach to freshmen but it makes the rest of their years with me much easier. I start really small...a paragraph, a quote, an image, a source. And these get re-drafted, sometimes 5 times! Knowledge creation by the student requires the assistance of the teacher to engage the student in critical analysis.

Publication and presentation are key when talking about tech integration. Beyond the transitions and fancy effects, what is the heart, the meat of the matter? What is the deep thinking, the deep analysis?

How can students interact with each other to construct knowledge? (Connectivism!)

I love the artifacts, and original docs, available on-line. Recently worked with a colleague in Santiago, DR--taught him what Wordles were, and encouraged him to put in Duarte's (the fater of liberty) letters into wordles to recognize big ideas. He was sooo delighted!

Google earth is a great resource for this chapter as well. Mapping, overlays, can show trends in population, economy, food, migration etc. Amazing.

Schools can reproduce some of the structures that exist in society without reproducing the inequities that are also present in society. I love wikis because each student has a live presence and a discussion board, a place to be, exist. Without over-emphasizing the social conditions of young people's lives, social studies educators can create meaningful experiences by utilizing the technological habits and experiences which frame their lives.


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