Friday, November 16, 2007


The Georgia conference (GAETC) has always been one of my favorites.The teachers that present here are outstanding! (This is the first one that is a bit winded and hasn't gotten to the topic yet at hand, but its the first in years that I've encountered.) I did have to work the booth this time, which was great because I met a lot of great netTrekker users and potential users. However, I'm very thankful to Vicki Davis for ustreaming the sessions she went to so I could still enjoy the presentations I missed.
uStreaming is a really neat tool that I've been lurking and checking recorded episodes, but have not actually tried. I think I will though if I can find something useful to try it with. However, I decided NOT to enjoy the ustreamed version of Vicki's presentation this morning and instead went to enjoy it in person.
Her presentation was about the Flat Classroom Project in her classroom: My Seatmate Lives in China. Let me start with a quick thought. As a private school teacher who has an administrator that can empower her, Vicki has a bit more ease than most public school teachers at implementing such a project. She even mentioned study hall at one point. HOWEVER - if you listen closely and if you follow Vicki at all online, then you'll realize that she puts a lot of heart and time into these projects because she believes in them as a way to really educate her students. While she may have the ability to unblock and then reblock a site as needed and a normal teacher does not, she has her obstacles. So if a public school teacher is interested in re-creating, joining in on an e-collaborative project, or designing their own, they need to work with their school system to lower the hurdles where possible.
Vicki also mentioned that the number one problem they have with getting public school teachers involved is actually because of our mandatory assessments that have no real meaning in the real world. Side question: Do we test our administrators, community members, and policy makers/politicians every two weeks to make sure they are making the grade? No, we don't interrupt their work to test them. There are other real world benchmarks they use to know if they are doing a great job, a poor job or continue to live in their fantasy world.
Back on topic. I don't want to get into the whole presentation because you can watch it for yourself on Vicki's uStream Channel, but I do want to share a few tidbits I learned.
  • PowerPoint is out. Now try Google Presentations with the back channel so participants, even those that are not sitting in the same room, can participate without interrupting.
  • Silence is noise to today's students. Let them listen to THEIR music on their iPod. You might see more productivity out of them.
  • Make sure that your school has a great AUP in place, but protect yourself and your students even more with a special permission slip on your major projects - especially those that involve international collaboration and in-depth use of the web.
  • Ning now is offering free services to schools. Create a social network with your students. Not on Facebook or MySpace because they really do want their own space. Ning can be kept private.
  • Sandbox mode is extremely important, especially when introducing new software or tools. Not just for the students, but for our teachers. (She explains this really well in her presentation.)
  • Make sure that you are clickable and verifiable as a source.
  • I am probably misspelling this - but teachers need to be "Teacherpreneurs" - who connect, empower and encourage new methods, tools, and ideas for the classroom.
  • The first step of any project is to make sure that you are connected! With RSS feeders, bookmarks, teacher networks, etc. So teachers join organizations like the TIE network if you are in Georgia, DEN if you are a Discovery fan, or join a Ning network or just the Twitterverse and check out edtechtalk.
I have more to write, but I'll do that this weekend or next week.

1 comment:

Tim said...

"Silence is noise" really caught me. I teach in a computer lab and students are constantly asking me if they can listen to music while they work. So far, I've always said no. I may rethink that now. Thanks!