Sunday, July 27, 2008

Should you teach how to use a tool?

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One of the things that I always get asked when I do a "computer training session" is - Why do I have to come? Why can't I just play with it? I am torn on this subject, because to be honest I play with the program to discover how to teach it, so why do I bother teaching it? Why don't I let them play too?

Then I remember a conversation I had with my good friend Amy about Jane Austen. Now I love Jane Austen, and had read all of her novels, but I didn't really take to Northanger Abbey. The book seemed a bit too, well girly. What I had always loved about Austen's novels is that they were very empowering (to the heroine at least), in a time where female empowerment wasn't the most popular topic. Amy (did I mention she was a former English teacher?) was shocked that I didn't like the novel, "She is making fun of gothic novels - it is a parody." Well you could have bowled me over. I hadn't gotten it, and I probably never would have gotten it.

So I think that is the key, sure you can play with a tool, and you may even get it. However, having someone guide you in the process not only save time, but it keeps you from missing the point.

In other words, learning in a vacuum is possible, but not as rewarding.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moodle Resources

I spent yesterday presenting about Moodle at a 1:1 conference for NC schools that are either interested or on their way to ubiquitous computing. They were excited and scared all at the same time, but it was great that they were getting an opportunity to share that. I had agreed to do a "hands-on" session which even though I knew that would be impossible I wanted to at least talk to them about Moodle could do. I was astounded to find that most of these teachers would soon be using Moodle and had never recieved any training. Not only that, but they had never used an LMS before and this was a new concept. I quickly changed my presentation from an overview and playtime with Moodle, "How the heck do I get started?" AKA "What do I need to do first?" What scared me the most though was that I couldn't help them. I couldn't go to their schools and teach all of them and I didn't know who could. So I decided to come up with the resources I could to help them. I hope to create a wiki page soon to bring all these together.

The Three Activities You Should Use the First Time You Use Moodle (Scaffold yourself - start here then move on next semester)
1) Forums
2) Assignments
3) Resources

Online Documentation:
Getting Started with Moodle
Moodle Teaching Certificate

Moodle Training (Corporate Moodle Partners)
Classroom Revolution
Moodle Rooms
Remote Learner
Provides FREE Moodle classrooms to use with your students

NC Learn - Moodle Training - Carolina Online Teacher Program

Hope to include more soon.

EdTech Talk - Its Elementary

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One of the best things about going to NECC was meeting some great people. One of those was Alice Mercer, a blogger, twitter, and educator :) She uses a cell phone in ways that would scare most people - better yet teachers (or should I say administrators ;)

So fast forward a few days and Alice asks me to join her on EdTech Talk. No I have to confess that I have listened to EdTech Talk in the past - but had no idea that it was Alice I was listening to.

Sidenote: It was great to meet people I had no idea were "famous" at NECC. I ended up just talking to so many and then later would find out that I had "heard of them before." It was a great experience, because it allowed me to have no pre-conceived ideas about them

I had a great time on the program. Although the whole time I wanted to know the backend of how they were ustreaming a skype call - you just can't take the geek outta the girl. Cliff Mims (the real star of the show) and I discussed technology skills, or the lack there of, with our pre-service teachers. My favorite part of the discussion revolved around - what can we do to fix it?
1) Cliff: Have our student teachers observe and be placed with technology proficient teachers
2) Me: Create a place (possibly a ning) for students to continue to be connected through the student teaching process as well as after they graduate - their own PLC.

We had a pretty great discussion - please check it out. They might even invite me back :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Blame My Father....

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As I lay here on the couch, my legs aching from waiting in line for over 4 HOURS for an iPhone I have decided to blame my father for all of this. After all, it is his fault that I am the geek girl that I am. It all started in 2nd grade (yes - I know - to some I am sooooo old and to others I am sooooo young) when my Dad brought home the Apple IIc to our humble abode. I learned to program "Hello World," played lemonade stand, printed banners and cards with Print Shop, and never quite made it to Orgeon, but I enjoyed the trail. That computer led to my joy of programming Logo and lunches in the computer lab at middle school. By the time our Macintosh 512K showed up the neighborhood was hangin' out in our basement to play David's Midnight Magic (the BEST pinball game evah!) By then, I was soldering together my first Heath Kit and would eventually help my Dad network our burgeoning computer collection. Fast forward 5 or 10 years, where I find my place amoungst the geeks of NCSU and eventually the likes of video gamers. But it all comes back my Dad, and the love for technology and playing with new things and trying to figure out how they work that has led me to this day. Where I stand in line for 4 hours to get the latest gadget the iPhone & I am loving every minute of it.

Did I mention the Apple IIc & Mac 512K are still running and in my attic :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Traveling to Edenton

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Sometimes I forget how "loud" my life is, between the 1 year-old, the construction on campus, the airplane travel it was just refreshing to have a nice contemplative and quiet drive to Edenton, NC. I was lucky that the weather held up and the drive was just wonderful. I wonder sometimes if being born near water (I was born in Seattle) draws you to the sea. Scanning the tops of the sailboats I yearn to be in the middle of the water.

I'm in Edenton for a brief stay and to help with the 21CTL Project that is working with Middle School Science & Math Teachers in the North East region of our state. I helped out with a series of workshops 2 summers ago in the Roanoke Rapids area and I'm excited to be asked to join this group in Edenton.

The best part of this project is the focus on the integration of technology to improve what the teachers are ALREADY DOING in their classroom. Using Vernier Probeware, graphing calculators and laptops, these teachers are taking their labs from the level of making graphs to INTERPRETING them. Plus, playing with probeware is just way too much fun!

Oh and by the way did I mention misstizzy was there? Whom I met via twitter at NCAECT? How cool is that?

Photo Credit: Retrieved: July 9th, 3:30PM EST.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Power of Twitter @NECC

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I have used Twitter passively over the past few months - sometimes forgetting to login for days on end, but I truly felt the power of the tool at this conference. (I hate that I missed the Twitter conversation @ the Blogger Cafe yesterday morning). It allowed for me a way to connect with others that I may never had been able to.

My memorable Twitter moments:
  • Bemoaning my lack of cowboy hat since I was watching the keynote streamed in the blogger cafe and having Marlo Gaddis pick one up for me :)
  • Having Lisa Parisi send out a large group invite for lunch which allowed me to meet Scott Meech, Bud the Teacher, Derrall, Christine, & Adina Sullivan
  • Watching the contest of "Who can Twitter This first" at the Twitter Dinner
  • The Twitter/Edublogger dinner (Thank You again Sharon Betts) that allowed me to connect with the people I have read snippets of their life for so long
  • Sharing session/Ustream information and getting to multitask (It was like traveling with a group of friends and dividing and conquering the sessions)

All in all, even though I'm sure that the non-NECC people that follow me on Twitter were completely perplexed, I think it was THE TOOL that helped make this conference experience one of the great ones.