Friday, February 29, 2008

More Ice today

I am not just talking about the weather. Today I am back at the Ice Conference, the general session. First off was the keynote address, "Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society" by Mitch Resnick from the MIT Media Lab. The main idea was that our jobs are increasingly requiring workers to be more creative, to think and develop ideas and products not just performing the same repetitive task over and over again. One question is, are we teaching our students to be creative thinkers or are we still teaching them just information? Another key topic discussed was digital literacy. Maybe it was obvious but the point that struck me most was that we are good at teaching students how to be a good digital readers but we might not be so good at teach students to be good digital writers. So, another question is, how do we teach our students to become creators or writers of digital content?

Resnick's presentation was both informative and inspiring, it makes me think how can I help teachers help teach their students students to be more creative. His ideas to answering the above questions, his life long research, has manifested itself in the current form of a programing language called Scratch. Scratch looks to inspire people to be creative and publishers in a digital context. Its one idea. Ask me for more information or how we can explore this more together. The following links can help you get started.

Scratch Web Site

Tools you can buy that were developed at the MIT Media Group

Please comment to let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Greetings from ICE

I thought I would get back to blogging. Attending a conference always makes me think...I should be doing this more often. I want to get out some info before the conference hangover kicks in, you know when you see and learn so much it makes your head hurt and then later, you cant seem to remember 1/2 of it. So before that happens here is some quick information from the Feb 27, 2008 ICE conference session "Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Resources"

The Library of Congress has a huge database of information including pictures, text, books, videos, sheet music, recordings and more. The information is grouped into categories such as American Memories, Global Gateway, and Veterans History. There are too many collections to list here so just go check out the site and see for yourself.

"Okay," you say, "there is a lot of stuff there. Now what?" Well, don't be overwhelmed. There are teacher resources on the site to help you get started, see lesson plans, plan activities and even professional development materials such as handouts and power point presentations. So what are you waiting for, get to it.

If you are waiting for me, please contact me to schedule a formal training session for you or your group.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

To use WikiPedia or Not?

To my surprise, I recently discovered that there seems to be great divide between those that support and those that do not support the use of Wikipedia. I become concerned when I see students using only one source such as Wikipedia or when I hear teachers tell their students not to use it. Wouldn't a practical approach teach our students to use multiple sources and evaluate each source for relevancy and accuracy? Isn't that what we did before we had a great wealth of information at our fingertips via the web? Further, when a student identifies an example of an inaccurate source is that not a powerful learning experience?

The web makes it easier to conduct research and provides our students with a great deal more of information than if they were physically confined to a library or classroom without the internet. Now, more than ever it is important to teach students the skills of evaluating sources of information. That is why information literacy is a 21st Century skill (see I think we need to get past hyping or discouraging the use of any one site or source and leave it up to the students to decide what is best, provided we do our job and teach them them the skills that they need.

Thanks to many Maine East teachers who have expressed their opinions on this topic during recent discussions and also to Scott Mcleod who writes about this topic in his blog, Dangerously Irrelevant (see
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