Friday, October 19, 2007

Impromptu Demo Breeds Ideas

I have seen this happen a lot through Twitter the last couple of months, but I had a first hand experience with it yesterday. I was teaching the final session of a professional development for a small group of teachers at an elementary school in our district. The class was about them learning to use the tools available on their Mac laptops. Over the course of the 5 weeks (3 hours per session) we covered the OS, File Management, iLife, iWork, Comic Life, etc.

One of the tools they gravitated to the most was iChat. While most were initially excited about the opportunity to cheaply visit with distant friends and family, they soon discovered what a great tool it was for communication within their building. I wanted to leave them with a glimpse of other things that are happening and available now. I chose to show them UStream. I was afraid this might push them over the edge, but what actually happened was quite different.

Within about 10 seconds the first idea was blurted out, then another and another. Within 2 minutes they had about 10 ideas for using UStream in their classroom. None of them are new and original, but I was impressed that they came up with them. Here is what they came up with...

1. Sharing presentations with parents who might not be able to attend in person.
2. Letting homebound students participate with class (shared Brian Crosby's work with them).
3. Showing and recording student behavior so adminstrator is aware (both positive and negative).
4. Allows parent's who can't normally come to the classroom to see what is going on in school.
5. Live science demonstrations showing or receiving from others.
6. Recording of teaching so students can review it later.
7. Recording student presentations so parents, grandparent's, etc. can view it later. (Password features helps)
8. Allowing guests, experts, etc. to come into the classroom from far away. (Platform neutrality the key for them here.)
9. Weekly newsletter (broadcast) for parents.
10. Nightly broadcast review of the day for students.
This list for me is not spectacular for the ideas themselves, but for who came up with them. This was a group of teachers who 6 weeks ago were afraid to do much more than write an email or browse a web page. I am going back out next month to help a few of them set up their own shows. It was pretty exciting.

The other exciting thing that came out of this class, was that by last night, I didn't have to show anyone anything. By that I mean if someone had a question about an issue with a program, or how to do this or that, I couldn't even answer. Others in the class took over and taught them how to do it. One of them even turned to me and said, "what do we need you for?" I felt proud and rejected all at the same time.

Podcast coming in a day or two.

See You in a Few!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Power of Support

I sat at an event honoring young women from our congregation this evening. One young woman who has had some personal struggles of late got up to sing. The piano began, she began, but a couple of lines had to stop being overcome with emotion. She asked the pianist to start again and she tried to start again with the same results. At this point, two other young ladies got up and stood by their friend, lending their support. She tried to start again and still could not finish the song. The pianist just played the entire song. Throughout those few minutes the young ladies stood with their friend offering their continued support. It was a moving and powerful moment.

It made me think of some of my own struggles the past few weeks. Speaking professionally, at times I have felt like I couldn't continue with things I was doing. Yet everytime I got to a low point some kind of support would come through the edtech community, be it an answer to a question or the posting of a link to conversation, or other type of discussion. This support has helped bouy me up.

Now we have this great K12 online conference and I would like to thank not only the Seedlings, but all of those who are presenting during the conference. A huge thanks as well to the conveners of the conference. I can feel the stress in posts and tweets from these tireless workers. I want them to know that there efforts are appreciated. k12online07

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Announcing 2008 Jordan School District Elementary Film Festival

We are gearing up for our annual elementary film festival. The festival will be held on April 24, 2008. The reason I am posting this here is because we have added a new category this year, Foreign Films. By foreign we mean outside of our school district. We will accept entries from any elementary (K-6) school in Utah, the US, or Worldwide. The entries can align to any of our other categories (Animation, Documentary, Feature Film, Public Service Announcement, etc.)

Entries will need to be accompanied by entry forms which can be downloaded from the link below. Entrants also need to understand that the films will be posted online for screening. Make sure you have covered any privacy issues with your own policies and procedures.

We are so excited to try branching our film festival out slowly to other schools. If you are interested in entering films in our Foreign Film category, please contact me at

The information page for the Film Festival can be found here –Jordan School District Elementary Film Festival

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Are You Ready, I Am!

As I have been involved at my dayjob lately, I have felt a real lack of forward progress. I keep trying to blame my feelings on the job itself or on coworkers lack of wanting to move forward. The more I think about it though I realize it is me, it is not the job, not anyone else but me. I feel a need for a recharge.

I have been looking forward to the K12 Online Conference, but as I woke up this morning and realized that David Warlick's opening keynote is less than 24 hours away, I got really excited. Jen Wagner tweeted yesterday that she would be up at 5:00 am tomorrow to view the keynote. I replied that I would watch it tomorrow, but not necessarily be getting up early to watch it. Thanks Jen for the challenge so to speak. As I woke up this morning I felt a lot of excitement about K12 Online. I am sure it is going to help recharge my batteries and I am really looking forward to it. Jen, I will be joining you and hopefully many others early tomorrow morning.

See You in a Few!