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 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 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

¡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, 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 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/ 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 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!"


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...