Friday, February 29, 2008

ASTE Day 1 ... Afternoon

Well after a box lunch and visit with the rest of ITT’s, I headed off to a Conference entitled “Technology to Enhance Your Curriculum”. After hearing about what the presenters do for the Anchorage School District, I realized they were our counterparts and would talk with them afterwards to look into some sharing of resources and collaborating with them as best we could. I was looking over their list of topics and quickly realized that due to the similarity of jobs I knew about most of the resources they were going to be going over, so I was going to be listening from a different angle during this session. Some of the key thoughts from their talk that struck me were the following:

“Technology is not something on TOP of what you are doing, but it should be something that will ENHANCE your lesson.” (Shelley Szipszky)

As an Instructional Technology Teacher, you should go in lead several lessons while giving the staff member you are working with the chance to observe how the students are interacting with the lesson. Just let the teacher know that you would like them to look past behavior and more towards their engagement in the lesson.

Then they pointed out that they did not harp on music and headphones if the students were using them as long as they were used in an appropriate manner. They noted that it would help many students focus on their work and that they would teach proper use of when to listen to music.

Then they featured a really cool movie using ISTOPMOTION, which is a program that takes still photos that will create a stop motion animation. This is actually a program that I have and I will look forward to trying it out this summer

Next up was a movie using a technique called shadow-puppet storytelling. They also mentioned that there were hundreds of iMovie 06 HD plug – in's that you could download and install. So when I get some time I will go looking for some to see what is out there.

The coolest resource that they did cover was called “Google Lit Trips”, located at This site works with KMZ files in Google Earth where they will take a book, create a pathway in Google Earth and then add text and pictures to recap the book as you move from one place to the next. I downloaded the classic book of “Grapes of Wrath” and the KML file started in Oklahoma and traveled west to California. The prospect of how this could enhance an English class was a giant “Aha” moment for me. I cannot wait to share this site with my English teachers.

Finally, their shared an Instructional Technology Teachers worst nightmare that is when your best laid plans go horrible wrong. They showed off this really cool site for K – 6, called where you can create a story or movie with provided characters. Ross had mentioned that he showed it to a teacher and the teacher was using for a couple of days and then the teacher came in the next day only to become frustrated towards technology. The emotion arose from the fact that their school district decided to block the web site. I know that feeling oh to well and know numerous teachers that have felt that same frustration.

Well now that Day 1 is done and after waking up at 4am today, dinner sounds nice and then early to bed as I am bushed. Check back soon for ASTE day 2 installments.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ASTE Day 1...retroactive post

Well if the IRS can impose retroactive taxes, I guess I can write a retroactive post to my new blog. After an intense four days of a fantastic conference on the Integration of Technology into Education. Well my first three hour session from 9am to 12pm I tentatively went to a session on Blogging to see what it was really about. I had heard about blogging for a while, even had signed up for an account on and, tried creating a blog on both sites, but after both attempts of trying them came away going what was the big deal. I have read a few blogs, seen one or two that might have been worthwhile even subscribing to as an RSS feed but was not seeing why blogs were so popular. But after seeing that blogs have grown and mature over the years to something elegant and graphically appealing to the eye, the ability to easily add pictures, video, and is editable html wise as well as being able to embed widgets, yet even a technophob could create one in under 5 minutes now mean that Blogging truly is ready for "Prime Time". I sat in a session today where two teachers from the BSSD school district basically runs their entire web site using either a Blog or a Wiki as their frame work for their web site.

Here is their home page which is a wiki:

Here is their home page which is a Blog:

Now why are they using both forms as two different home pages, well they are both easy to crate new content in but have different feels and different uses. Most of the teachers are running a blog as their own teacher page. Students are creating content and posting it online and they are seeing exponential growth year over year as the students are creating more content faster and at a high quality of work, usually better than what they would have turned in by hand.

So this is the true birthplace of why I started to blog. Seeing the source of the power that is the driving force behind an entire district of students and teachers thousands of miles away from the nearest mall, they are CREATORS, PUBLISHERS, ARTISTS and most important of all LEARNERS. Students are no longer using their school hallways as their audience, but now they have the entire planet as their audience. That is the true power of the Internet.

So the old saying "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword" needs to be changed, or wikified to "The Internet and Technology is changing the world forever."

How Blogging Can Improve Writting Skills

So how can Blogging improve your students writing skills? Glad you asked. As I was writing my first post online last night and wanting to sound intelligent, I realized that I needed a spell checker, which usually I just use the Firefox, but I just could not figure out how to spell lethargic but just could not figure it out. But then I decided to open up the computer dictionary and typed in the word lazy and then clicked on the thesaurus and quickly found the spelling. Then I noticed that I was using the same adjective a couple of times, so I once again I was using the thesaurus. It was incredible, powerful "Aha" Moment.

More from ASTE to come

Monday, February 25, 2008

ASTE Day 1 thoughts 3 days later...

Well if you don't start a Blog at a Tech conference, when will you start a Blog? So here I am making a return to ASTE 2008 almost 9 years after my first time and am I GLAD to be back. The energy and overall lust for knowledge is incredible as there is so much enthusiasm for how technology can turn students into life long learners. Over and Over we keep hearing how this project or that project turns the most lethargic students into industrious students with talents that teachers were surprised to see in their students. The vibe is incredible, the information is hitting us fast and furious, and I am trying my best not to drown as I am swimming in a large ocean of content of skills, projects and wisdom from around the "Greatest" state in USA. It will take me all week to play catch up on Blogging on what I am learning, thinking, and planning on sharing with teachers back in Fairbanks in the coming months.

Check back tomorrow for more post...